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Economy

Russian Far East to woo Asian tourists with Kamchatka resort

$500m hotel and ski area to be sited near World Heritage-listed volcanos

The volcanoes of the Kamchatka were registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. (Photo courtesy of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy city government)

MOSCOW -- Kamchatka's government, in the Russian Far East, has told Nikkei Asia it plans to construct a large resort on the nature-rich peninsula by 2025.

The development, estimated to be worth 39.2 billion rubles ($518 million), is slated for opening in 2025. Local authorities expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have run its course by then. In addition to Russians, developers hope to attract tourists from Asia, including Japan.

The Three Volcanoes resort will be built in the southeastern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula near a cluster of volcanoes. The operator was set up by Interros, a Russian company, and other investors. The cost of construction is forecast at 15 billion rubles. The federal and local governments will chip in another 24.2 billion rubles for infrastructure.

The resort will have lodging, restaurants, a spa, a ski area and hiking trails, allowing visitors to experience a variety of activities throughout the year. The project includes plans for a port for cruise ships in Vilyuchinskaya Bukhta, a bay that opens onto the Pacific Ocean.

Construction will begin soon. By 2025, the resort operator hopes to have about 220,000 visitors a year, rising to more than 500,000 by 2034. The Kamchatka Peninsula is known for its natural beauty. Its volcanoes are a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. In recent years, the peninsula become more popular for nature tours, but it has few hotels or recreation facilities.

Julia Morozova, head of economic development and trade for the Kamchatka region, told Nikkei Asia the area has "significant potential" for tourism and expressed hope it will draw many Japanese tourists. Until last year, about 2,000 Japanese visited the region annually on chartered flights or cruise ships, according to Morozova.

Interros, which built a resort for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, believes the first-ever large resort development in the Kamchatka Peninsula will be a hit. The Far Eastern Federal District, where the Kamchatka region is located, has begun issuing electronic visas to tourists. By promoting tourism, the regional government hopes to create jobs and stem the depopulation of the Russian Far East.

In September 2019, the federal government approved a program to promote tourism through 2035. Noting the tourism sector contributes just 3.8% to Russia's gross domestic product, the program aims to lift tourism revenue fivefold over the period. By developing infrastructure and improving the quality of service, which is seen as inferior to that in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, the program aims to significantly increase the number of visitors to the area.

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