Kaliningrad Oblast to Receive 6bn Rubles in Federal Money for Tourist Clusters

Vladimir Savelyev, 28.02.2014 09:14
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 The regional development program for tourist and recreational clusters of Kaliningrad Oblast has been approved by the expert council of Rostourism and included in the federal program ‘Development of domestic and inbound tourism in Russia’, as Deputy Minister of Tourism for Kaliningrad Oblast Sergey Kuznetsov told TRN magazine. 

For the purposes of building these clusters 5,964 billion rubles ($167,200,000) will be allocated from the federal budget, and 100 million ($2,803,000) of them are to be spent this year.

According to the deputy minister, development projects of five tourist and recreational clusters on the coast of the Baltic Sea were included into the program. They will be built near Svetlogorsk (Rauschen), Zelenogradsk (Cranz), on the outskirts of Pionersky (Neukuhren), Yantarny (Palmnicken), and in Baltiysk (Pillau).

Financing will also come from the oblast’s budget, as well as from private investors, who too will make their contribution to the development of the local tourism. A number of companies have already sent in letters of intent, says Sergey Kuznetsov.

Federal and oblast’s money will be spent on creating engineering infrastructure, building roads, and renovating seafronts; private investments – on building hotels and other tourist facilities.

General Director of Kaliningrad tour operator Amber Region Tatyana Lisichenko says that, looking at the oblast’s current tourist flow, there does not appear to be any shortage of hotel rooms.

“The main issue is the lack of big hotels and conference halls with the capacity of 300 people or more,” she said in an interview with TRN magazine. “Because of that, we have to turn down business events of large corporations like Lukoil and Gazprom, and they in turn switch to Gelendzhik.”

Another problem has to do with the competition. Lisichenko said that many tourists prefer to book hotels in Kaliningrad Oblast via booking.com, and price-wise it is impossible for the local companies to compete with this portal.

General Director of Amber Region also added that the oblast really needed castles to attract more tourists. They do exist in the region, but one of them is a prison, and Waldau castle in Nizovye village, which until recently housed an educational institution, needs to be renovated.

She believes the oblast to have everything it takes to be a good tourism destination. “We have the Baltic Sea, the Curonian Spit, mineral water and mud spas, interesting sights,” she says. “Our company mostly specializes in excursion and active tours (bicycle and water tours, ballooning). Last summer we for the first time launched kayak tours down the region’s water channels, servicing about 700 tourists during the season.”

In its summer programs (‘Summer in the Amber Region’, ‘Pearls of the Baltic’, ‘Down the Roads of the Amber Region’) the operator combines excursions with a holiday at the Baltic Sea. And the excursion tour ‘Introduction to the Corner of Amber’ includes a visit to Kaliningrad, to the Curonian Spit national park and to the only place in the world where amber is mined in an open pit.

Lisichenko said that last year, thanks to tourists from the regions, the number of Amber Region clients rose compared to 2012.

“Tourists who come here are pleasantly surprised at the value they get for their money in our hotels and guest houses,” she added. “According to them, they have not seen anything quite like that before. For instance, last summer you could stay in a four-star hotel ‘HELIOPARK Kaiserhof’ in Kaliningrad for 3.5 thousand rubles ($98), which is cheaper than in Smolensk and Novgorod.”

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