Development of nature-based tourism in the Russian Arctic in the context of limited environmental potential

Lead Author Yuriy, Gavrilov
Institution Contact State Research Center "Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute", St.Petersburg, Russia
Theme Theme 5: New Markets for the Arctic, including Trade, Tourism and Transportation
Session Name 5.1 Arctic Tourism Futures
Presentation Type Poster
Abstract text Russian Arctic is a region of great importance for our country, as it was stated in the national Arctic zone development strategy for the period until 2020. The strategy points to the need of comprehensive measures for social and economical development of Arctic. Tourism is considered to be one of the instruments to support the region's economy. An example of such a development is Western Arctic, where tourism is an important social and economical factor. These regions are visited by more than 1 million persons/per year. No accurate statistics on the visitors number to the Russian Arctic is available today. We can compare the two neighboring Arctic Archipelagos: the Norwegian Svalbard is visited annually by more than 80000 tourists, the Russian Franz Josef Land - by approx. 1000 people. Such a great difference in the number of visitors is not due to low attractiveness of the Russian Arctic territories. Tourist companies are showing great interest to operations there. Many natural and historical objects existing there can be considered as tourist destinations. The reason consists in lack of transport network, destroyed infrastructure, sufficient amount of border points, bureaucratic bars hampering advance planning. Among the factors limiting the economic activity, special attention in all the Arctic regions is paid to ecological capacity of landscapes. Arctic desert and Arctic tundra ecosystems are referred to Arctic landscapes. They are characterized by low environmental potential and, as a result, by low recovery capability. Polar biota is adapted to the extreme conditions characteristic for this region, with large temperature and lighting amplitudes, and to snow and ice action. The fragility of these ecosystems is caused by the absence of natural reducing agents - flowing waters. The heat to moisture ratio is one of the most important characteristics defining the hydrothermal stability of an ecosystem. Extreme values in such a relationship determinate the small range of polar biota tolerance. Poor biodiversity sometimes alternate with its almost complete absence. Among the most important issues related to anthropogenic impacts on the region is the problem of waste accumulation and disposal and soil disturbance. Even modern waste disposal programs often breaking the already damaged ecosystems. This example demonstrates the importance of regulation and careful planning of any economic activity in the Arctic zone. Tourism is no exception. Return of the state to the Arctic is opening prospects for rehabilitation, empowerment of its infrastructure and development of social and nature-based projects.