Director of Russian Arctic National Park speaks about tourism development
© From personal archive

Director of Russian Arctic National Park speaks about tourism development

As part of the First International Arctic Media Congress at the Accessible Arctic forum, the editorial staff spoke to Director of Russian Arctic National Park Alexander Kirilov about tourist activities in the protected area and its main challenges and achievements.

How do you see the development of tourism in Russian Arctic National Park? How valuable is this industry for the park?

You know, tourist activities have always been an area of the park's work and the development of ecotourism, plus historical and cultural activities and environmental education. And nothing is better than tourist trips for showing the historical polar stations or base camps of famous expeditions. It certainly helps in preserving and studying historical and cultural sites.

We also promote environmental awareness among both Russian citizens and foreigners when we show what our country is doing in the Arctic region and how it preserves, studies and protects fragile polar ecosystems.

Do you know the share of Russian and foreign tourists who visit your national park?

Up to 10 percent of tourists are Russian, something like 6 ̶8 percent on average. However, last year Russian tourists topped the list, but this was partially due to the children's trip to the Arctic region organized by Atomflot.

Usually China comes in first place for tourists, at 30 ̶ 35 percent, followed by citizens of Germany, France and other European countries, with 17 ̶ 20 percent.

Why do you think so few Russians travel to the Arctic region?

First of all, the price matters, and certainly we should remember that such a weather event as snow is no wonder for Russians. The price plays a very big role because a trip from Russia to Franz Josef Land or to the North Pole costs too much.

Another factor is that last year a problem arose from a Russian Federation resolution that contains several technical errors: vessels sailing from the ports of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk are not allowed to cross borders, which means that they cannot visit Franz Josef Land. Now there is a discussion about changing the government resolution and allowing ships to access the archipelago.