Russia Urged to Boost Polar Cruises
Tourist cruises to the North Pole could bring substantial revenue to the Russian Arctic's economy, said Roman Skory, deputy head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism during a Russian Security Council hosted meeting on board the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy.
However, accomplishing this objective requires building the proper tourist infrastructure in northern Russia, he said. Currently infrastructure is rudimentary, but a systematic approach would help northern Russian regions turn tourism into a large sector comparable to industry and transport.
In 2014, cruise ships carried 1.3 million passengers to the Arctic, with the Russian segment serviced by foreign cruise ship operators, accounting for not more than 0.1 percent of total passenger traffic, Skory said.
"We need to overhaul facilities of the Arctic infrastructure and to convert existing structures for the needs of research and tourism projects," Skory said, also highlighting Svalbard, the Russian Arctic National Park and the Barneo Arctic base as three promising and unique locations in the Barents Sea.
The National Park provides habitat for polar bears and bowhead whales. It also includes one of the largest bird colonies in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as walrus and seal rookeries.
Camp Barneo is a temporary ice base established annually since 2002 on an ice floe relatively close to the North Pole.
The Russian Security Council hosted Arctic Council member countries on the icebreaker between August 30 to September 1, the sixth such meeting. The meeting's agenda included discussion of political, economic and cultural cooperation between the Arctic countries as well as international law, environmental protection and sea transport in the Arctic.