Murmansk region in recent years is experiencing a real surge in popularity among tourists from around the world. Cinematographers come for plots and beautiful plans, guests from Asia – beyond the northern exotic and polar lights, our compatriots – to a ski resort and fishing. There is much to boast of the Kola region, its tourist possibilities are far from exhausted. The past, present and future of tourism in the Murmansk region “Bee-Port” was told by the Governor Marina Kovtun.
Marina Vasilievna, only lazy people do not talk about tourism today. Each region tries to attract visitors from Russia and abroad. Murmansk region – what is it in terms of tourism, how does it look in this market against the others?
In the Murmansk region, excellent tourist resources. This is a fact, no one disputes with this. However, at the same time we occupy a very modest place in the market of tourist services. And we do not have an organized tourist flow, a mass tourist flow.
We have a lot, let’s say, exclusive types of tourism, but not mass ones. What are our tourist resources? Natural recreational potential, cultural, historical and ethnic. Very great opportunities give a geographical position.
Today, the Arctic is already a brand in itself. And the Murmansk region gives, if you can say so, the opportunity to touch the Arctic.
And this brand should be promoted, untwisted. Even to invent and invent nothing. But who should do this? Tourism is the sphere of application of the forces of private business, it is small and medium business, family business. We have only 30 companies – tour operators, 20 of them are engaged in fishing tours. Mass tourism with the involvement of tourists from Russia is engaged in too few companies. It should also be noted that tours to the Kola Peninsula by these tour operators, which, although working on the Russian market, are mostly created for foreign tourists. Foreign tourists are a priority for our tour operators. Tourists from Asia, from Europe are now actively coming to us. But a more massive tourist than a Russian tourist, it’s hard to imagine.
Another thing is that a 3-4-day tour to the Kola Peninsula along with the flight is too expensive to fly in and out, 3 days to stay, in general, and pay a very high price.
Do you know how much this package is offered by tour operators?
I know how much it costs, for example, an hour for renting a bus. And this is a considerable component in the price of the tour. It is necessary to travel around the region for long distances. The main problem of the region, it seems to me – and this is not only my opinion, it is experts’ opinion – insanely expensive transport. The cost of a large bus from 3.5 thousand per hour and a minibus somewhere, in my opinion, 1500 / hour. There are no such prices either in Moscow or in St. Petersburg. Well, the bus fleet is small, the technology is not new, there is no competition. For tour operators, it is very difficult to find a good partner in the field of transportation. This, by the way, is a great place for business, and it’s worthwhile to think about this for beginning entrepreneurs.
Another problem that exists today in the field of tourism – all work is scattered. Hotels, food, display objects, transport companies – each works by itself. I have already given the Ministry of Industry and Entrepreneurs the instructions to unite them and put them in one negotiating table so that they talk about the general tourism product, the general tourist image, and not specifically about their personal business, although this can not be taken into account either.
As for the objects of the show. The Museum of Local Lore is one of the must-see places for most tourists. But it looks somewhat dated, do not you think?
Our Museum of Local Lore, of course, is very rich in exhibits, very rich in terms of information, but the exposures are already outdated. Today, museum visitors want to see interactive – new exhibitions, installations, programs. Our museum has big plans until 2020, there is much that will change. Obsolete windows, racks, of course, this all needs to be changed. Stuffed animals, which we are used to from childhood, also need to be updated, we will definitely work on this, it is our task. There are plans to update the funds and create new expositions.
Of course, for museums there should be no vacations: neither winter nor summer – the work time should be convenient for visitors, not museum workers. They should not be the guardians of funds, they must first attract visitors and be interesting for new visitors, so that every time a person, even if he visits this museum several times, he must see for himself and discover something new. Therefore, the slogan “We are the custodians of funds” should remain in the past.
Are there any new projects in the sphere of tourism for the near future planned?
We plan to participate in two priority projects: the North Necklace of Russia and the Russian Arctic. Here we have certain successes, I do not want to anticipate events, but the direction of the Russian Arctic, for example, is closely related to sea cruise tourism, the construction of the necessary infrastructure in Murmansk. We have already done a lot for the centenary of Murmansk, we have opened the Maritime Station. Unfortunately, it is still not actively loaded, but nevertheless, we are already ready to receive cruise ships.
We prepared and sent a preliminary application for the investment project “Tourist and recreational cluster” Murmansk – the gateway to the Arctic “. And we are negotiating to attract Norwegian cruise companies to extend the ferry line. Large cruise companies have already put up for sale routes with a visit to Murmansk. In 2019, a cruise of the Norwegian company “Hurtigruten” from Tromsø to Franz Josef Land with a call to the port of Murmansk will take place. The company has long been interested in this route. For the first time this issue was raised in 2007. Of course, a lot of comments were made, and 11 years have passed. As a result of negotiations, the company opened the sale of cruises with calls to Murmansk for 2019.
Are there any plans or negotiations on the possibility of a constructive dialogue with the owners of the airport and representatives of Russian Railways about the reconstruction of our gate in Murmansk?
In occasion of the railway station I will not say that there are global plans. RZD led him to a more or less proper view of the centenary of Murmansk.
Owners of the airport have plans, they are large enough. There is a task to reconstruct the runway. The work is being pushed aside, they need to be synchronized with the plans for the reconstruction of the airport itself. Especially with the growth of the value of Murmansk as a gateway to the Arctic. The airport reconstruction program is planned until 2020, but Murmansk has been constantly moving away. The Ministry of Transport does not deny us, but there is not enough money for everything. Let’s hope that everything will be realized in the foreseeable future.
Returning to attracting tourists. What does our tourist see when he leaves the terminal? A lot of billboards with advertising sushi, fur coats, apartments – yes anything! The tourist has arrived, everything, he left the airport building, and it catches any kind of advertising, but not what excites in him the anticipation of coming to the Arctic. There should be at least 2-3 billboards with the beauties of the Arctic, which should enchant and fascinate: Welcome, Northern Lights, Icebreaker Lenin, Lappish culture. Familiarity with the edge should begin with the first minutes of your stay. Our business needs to think about this.
If we talk about experience from the side in terms of tourism, then what would you like to see in the Murmansk region?
The development of tourism, I think, is ideal in Finland. Branding is especially organized. Very laconic and with great taste done, and authenticity is presented in all products. We learned from them and we still have something to learn from our northern neighbors.
How and where do you prefer to spend your time, except fishing and downhill skiing?
There is nothing to brag about, unfortunately. During my time as governor, I could not rest more than two weeks. Was selected during the winter holidays and in the summer in July, maybe 10 days I have. Next, I do not leave Sochi, the Penza region is the homeland of my parents. Travel to other cities of our country. I managed to visit both Altai, Yaroslavl, and other cities of Russia. Strasbourg saw in the summer, though on the way from the airport and back.
I would like that the work that began several years ago – was continued. Murmansk region is a unique region with unique people and unique objects of display. Let us all do it together so that our Arctic brand is known anywhere in the world!
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