Russia - Arkhangelsk Region
Tourism infrastructure is the key factor of tourism development and tourist's attraction to the Arkhangelsk Region. Tourism as an industry of the Region's economy faces such obstacles as poor infrastructure (especially roads), low investments into the economy in Soviet and post-Soviet time, worn-out technical facilities, shortage of comfortable automobile transport (tourist buses), rail-transport and sea passenger vessels, high rates for accomodation and transport services. A special challenge is presented by the region's vast area as it includes 25 municipalities and unique tourist destinations are scattered around thre region travel destinations. In general, lack of comfortable hotels and congress centress is stated. A prerequisite for the the development of prioritized sea cruises is procurement of passenger ships, quay construction, on -shore infrastructure development, dredging works and the port area expansion. To improve the rail infrastructure it is recommended to equip stations modern equipment. It is essential to develop existing flight connections with Norway and to start new regular direct flight connections with Finland and Sweden.
It seems urgent to expand and modernize infrastructure through:
- Attraction of private investments in constructing car parks and stopping points
- Buget accommodation and food stops
- Venues for conferences etc. in towns and municipalities
- Protected areas and other nature objects
- State and private investments in enhancing hotels capacity
- Investments of state and private funds in bus and car routes information and engineering equipment
In the Arkhangelsk Region visa issues are claimed to be a serious administrative obstacle to tourism and international cooperation development. A Schengen visa presents certain difficulties: long processing time, sending documents by courier to Moscow or St. Petersburg, rather high fee compared with average salary rate and difficulty with filling in an application form in English. As a rule, a visa is issued for one entry. A positive example is a simplified procedure for the Pomor visa to Norway issued by the Norwegian Honorary Consulate in Arkhangelsk. Due to high demand for Schengen visas, there is a future need in a simplified visa application procedure for visiting the Barents Region countries. For example, a possibility of issuing visas for a weekend or business visas for 72 hours is considered necessary. To facilitate visa issues, it seems important to open diplomatic offices and the Barents Region international tourist organizations offices in Arkhangelsk.
In everyday work the Arkhangelsk Region travel agents actively use different information channels. In order to meet the regional needs in accessible information, it is necessary to take the following measures aimed at extending the network and optimization of local TIC work:
- to modernize the region's official travel portal
- to introduce an interactive tourist map presenting information in a visual manner
- to attract state and private funds for financing placing promotional materials
- advertisements for featuring the Arkhangelsk Region tourist destinations in Russian and overseas mass media
At present, the Arkhangelsk Region operators, interested in international cooperation with partners from the Barents Region and promoting tours, need information about potential overseas partners and their services. One solution to the problem could be the launch of the Barents Region joint travel web portal. It could be supported by tourism associations of the partner countries, chambers of commerce, BEAR Joint Working Group on tourism, authorities responsible for tourism development in regions. Tour operators consider international events (working meetings, seminars, forums, exhibitions) as another effective information channel.
Tourism development includes a comfortable environment for the disabled. Unlike European countries, the needs of the disavled tourists in Russia and in the Arkhangelsk Region, in particular, are practically not met. In Arkhangelsk the the disabled can easily access on 13% of social infrastucture. Providing an accessible environment for the disabled is a very important social and economic issue which involves the rights and needs of thousands of the Region residents. Travelling round the Region for the disabled tourists is characterised by unsuitavble transport, difficult physical access to places of interest, few restaurants, cafes, comfortable hotels, not enough tours on offer, excurcions, events adapted for the disabled and special programmes, strategic documents to establish a barrier-free environment in the tourism industry. Specific characteristics of services should be taken into consideration or condions for the disabled and the elderly to visit places of interest should be provided.