Altai Krai — perspective tourist region of Russia
Altai Krai is located in the southeast of Western Siberia. The region lodges 12 cities. The territory’s population surpasses 2.5 million people, representatives of more than 80 nationalities and ethnic groups inhabit Altai, with Russian people prevailing.
The territory presents quite a variety of landscapes — flat grassland steppes, wooded steppe and forests, and mountains. The climate is moderately continental, with warm summer and moderate‑frost wintertime. Thousands of beautiful pure‑water lakes and rivers are located in the Altai Krai. The lands of Altai embody a natural object of global value — the site where the Ob river, one of the largest on the planet, is formed.
Altai is one of Siberia’s most valuable areas of historical and cultural heritage: over 5,000 monuments of archeology, architecture, history and culture pepper the territory.
Altai is a blissful place for archeological research and discovery. The earliest evidence of prehistoric human habitat in Northern Asia was found in Denisov Cave and its vicinities. The unique finds recently made by archeologists, indicate that the Altay land has not yet disclosed all its well‑kept secrets.
Active development of foothills of Altai by Russians is related to the activities of an outstanding Russian mine owner Akinfy Demidov. Today, there are many places in Altai where the heart of a history lover stops beating at the sight of ancient shafts, dams, ruins of fortress walls.
Every year the number of tourist centers, camping sites, hotels in Altai Krai increases, new itineraries are worked out, mountain skiing slopes are opened, one can enjoy rafting on mountain rivers, horse‑back riding, flights on paragliders, etc. 270 hotels and similar facilities can provide accommodation and rest for more than 25 thousand guests at a time.
The Altai Krai keeps rich traditions of treatment in its sanatoria and health resorts.
Medioprophylactic and health‑improving properties of saline lakes in Altai steppes have prospects for starting balnearies.
Numerous visitors are magnetized to such places of tourist pilgrimage as the shores of Big and Small Yarovoye Lakes, Gor’koye‑Peresheechnoye Lake, Crimson Lake and other saline and bitter‑saline lakes.
Curing and health‑improving treatment procedures have recently gained increased popularity — baths prepared with antlers of young Siberian deer — maral. They have numerous curative properties and are offered not only in sanatoria, but also on maral‑breeding farms.
The main spa resort of the Altai Krai — Belokurikha — offers baths of thermal radon waters. It is a versatile balneary of federal value with the modern medioprophilactic institution equipped with up‑to‑date technologies, which are operated by high‑class experts in treatment and prevention of numerous diseases. In the active use are here the techniques of treatment based on local natural material: honey, herbs, therapeutic muds, live‑stock products. Much attention is paid to short‑term treatment programs that are in demand among socially active business people. Today all conditions are created here for treatment, health‑improving and recreation activities. Besides, Belokurikha is successfully operating Siberian centre of congress tourism. Dozens of conferences, symposiums, exhibitions, meetings, seminars, etc. are annually held here.
In Belokurikha there are 15 sanatorium‑and‑spa institutions which can accomodate about 5 thousand guests at a time. Capacious sanatoria include “Resort Belokurikha”, “Russia”, “Altai — West”, etc.
The resort is recognized as a Siberian ski‑resort with newly‑equipped slopes of the European class. 50 per cent of tourists head for Belokurikha in wintertime. Now there are nine slopes more than 9 kilometers long, all told. The downhill‑skiing complex is a network of the interconnected tracks, which is very convenient both for tourists, and for international competitions and the Russia’s championships in all categories of downhill skiing and snowboarding. The participants of annual festival of active recreation “Snowball” show skiing and snowboarding skills.
The ski‑resort of Belokurikha meets all up‑to‑date safety regulations for active recreation.
Besides Belokurikha, downhill‑skiing slopes are open on the left riverside of the Katun in the Altaiskiy district — “Mount. Veselaya”, “Mount. Gorynya (Mountain)”, special economic area for tourism and recreation “Sky‑blue Katun”. From tops of these slopes open magnificent vistas of the Katun river valley and the Altai mountains. In the city of Zmeinogorsk downhill‑skiing complex “Zmeinogorsky” is in use; in Biysk district there is a track close to sanatorium “Biya River Dawns”. These slopes are convenient for families. Some of them are also equipped with lifts for sleighing, riding on snow‑scooters and inflated tire tubes, etc. The general number of down‑hill skiing centers in Altai Krai is 28 varying in the track length from 250 m up to 2700 m and the height drop from 75 m up to 550 m.
The Krai is validly considered one of the most prospective regions of Russia for development of travel and recreation.
In the mountains most popular are active itineraries. Rafting on the downstream Katun, as well as on the rivers Charysh, Peschanaya (Sandy), Kumir (Idol), Korgon and Belaya (White) allows one to receive a high doze of adrenaline, when rafting or canoeing on catamarans along the simplest routes up to extreme ones.
Speleology tours in Altai Krai have unlimited opportunities. There are a lot of caves easy to roam for anyone. Fans of extreme caving can visit some of the deepest caves of Siberia — the Altay Cave which is 240 m deep, the Geophysical Cave (137 m), and others. The underground world of Altai is not yet completely studied, and here one can make surprising discoveries.
The days‑long walking and horse‑back tours are getting increased popularity in a number of areas, such as the Altai district, Charyshsky, Smolensky and Krasnoshchekovsky districts, as well as in the Kolyvan’ Mountains.
Altai Krai is the centre for professional paraglider‑piloting and extreme tourism in Siberia, due to a camping site of para‑glider‑pilots “Bobrovaya Zaimka (Beaver Settlement)”, located close to Belokurikha.
Fishermen and hunters will find quite a number of places in Altai Krai to their liking. Popular trophies for hunters include roe deer, maral, bear, capercaillie (wood grouse). Trophies of roebuck antlers, gained in Altai, are very special due to their large size and grace.
Many cultural events in Altai Krai are worth visiting, for example, writer Vassily Shukshin Days held in his birthplace, the village of Srostki, a number of festivals including such as “Songs of Itkulskoye Lake Summertime”, “Under the Starry Sky of Kolyvan Mountains”, international cheese festival “Cheese Holiday” and others that every year bring more and more visitors from all Russia and abroad to the land of Altai.
Altai Krai has good prospects for rural tourism. It was designated by the Ministry of Agriculture as region for pilot project on development of tourism in countryside. Rural tourism is a novelty, and its development is stipulated by the federal program of agricultural development.
The best prospects for rural tourism have a number of metropolitan regions — Altaiskiy district, Smolensky, Soloneshensky, Charyshsky, Zmeinogorsky and Zavyalovsky district. All of them are rather remote from large cities and so can guarantee the visitors pure air and water, GMO‑free food stuff and a number of picturesque and unique natural sights. Besides, a visitor is offered to see an apiary, to go berry‑gathering and mushroom‑hunting, together with fishing, hunting and other things to enjoy one’s rural rest.
The active economic and investment policy of the Administration of Altai has promoted considerable improvement of the investment conditions in the territory and the starting of large federal projects. Within the last two years decisions were adopted to create in the Altai Krai a special economic area for tourism and recreation, and a gambling area.
Altaiskiy district was chosen to accommodate the special economic area for tourism and recreation; it is located in the southeast of Altai Krai, at a distance of 280 km from Barnaul, the capital city of Altai. In the East and South the region borders on the Republic of Altai. The special economic area exceeds 3,000 hectares in its space.
The planned yearly capacity of “Sky‑blue Katun”is 115,000 visitors. In general, the project stipulates accommodation of 3.5 thousand tourists.
Supposedly, five types of accommodation will be offered: a hotel in the mountains, spa‑and wellness‑hotels, a family hotel, a youth hostel and a bungalow. The construction of these means of accommodation is planned to be completed in 2012.
The industry of hospitality will be supplied with facilities for meals and entertainment of tourists. The construction of accommodation and entertainment facilities will be stipulated by such status of the special economic area as “Altai Adventure Park” or the centre for extreme tourism.
In the immediate vicinity of the special economic area for tourism and recreation is located the gambling area “Siberian Coin”. It is one of four gambling areas in Russia being created according to the decision of the Russian Government.
The area of its territory exceeds 2,000 hectares.
Equipping the gambling area with all necessary amenities is planned to be carried out through developing exclusive projects and designing in the complexes for gambling, accommodation, and entertainment.
One of the primary tasks assumed by the Administration of the Altai Krai is the creating both nationally and internationally of a positive image of an investment‑friendly, up‑to‑date and evolving region of Russia.
Much regard is given to promoting tourist services of the Altai Krai at large exhibitions of international, national and regional levels — these are specialized exhibitions “ITB” (Berlin, Germany), “Intourmarket”, MITF (Moscow, Russia) and “TourSib” (Novosibirsk, Russia, Western Siberia). As an exhibition participant, Altai Krai has become recognizable from the point of view that prospective tourists to Altai, investors, Russian and international tour operators attend the exhibitions.
At present a regional target program of tourism development in Altai is being elaborated in which a package of ways to develop tourism will be formulated. The program’s peculiarity will be the focus in the regional economy on meeting the demand for the quality of holiday‑making and sanatorium treatment, offered first of all, to the domestic consumer of a tourist services.
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