Arkhangelsk Dreaming of Hurtigruten.
Tourism long ago was announced a priority of Arkhangelsk region development. In some distant perspective the tourist’s business should become one of the basic economic branches in the line with timber industry, shipbuilding and transport sector, says the head of he Regional department of economic development Mr. Roman Nakozin. Arkhangelsk is jealously looking at a success of neighboring Karelia fairly assuming own tourism potential much more substantial. During the last few years the regional tourism infrastructure obviously demonstrated quite good positive dynamic. A number of new comfortable hotels have been built and most of the old ones were reconstructed. The city enjoys new trade centres, restaurants, pubs. Quite a good development is demonstrated also in the areas remote from the capital city. Today tourists can live in the forest hotels, old peasant’s houses, visit beautiful karst caves, enjoy skiing and mountain skiing routes, fishing and hunting in the taiga etc. The situation is changing for the better also because of new conditions for winter tourism. In different areas of the region the tourists can find comfortable guest houses. For example the group of tourists from Italy enjoyed a Russian Christmas week in the Pinezhsky district which is far away from the big roads. The aim of the program of tourism development adopted by the Regional Council of Deputies two years ago is to grow up a number of incoming tourists by 30 percent in 2010. The city of Arkhangelsk is also going to adopt own program this year. But still the ambitions of main travel agencies are much higher than existing conditions.
The main destination of Arkhangelsk region, the beloved pearl of its crown is Solovki islands. For many years this archipelago stayed the main tourists attraction in the region receiving up to 30 000 of visitors per year. Today the number of tourists going to Solovki is almost the same but they prefer to go through Karelia because in the 90-s Arkhangelsk lost all its sea vessels which shipped tourists to the sacred archipelago. But a dream to make Arkhangelsk again the main transit point for tourists and pilgrims going to Solovki is still alive. Some years ago the Northern Shipping Company tried to revive the old sea route forwarded one of its boats between Arkhangelsk and Solovki. But the prices of this cruise were so high that it could be used only by a few big companies for the corporative trips.
A new hope was brought to Arkhangelsk by the marketing director of Hurtigruten company Mr. Olav Luhr. Some rumors that the boats of legendary company can appear in Arkhangelsk were spread few years ago. This was even a topic of discussion between the administrations of Arkhangelsk oblast and Finnmark fylkeskommune. Aeroflot- Nord has also recently showed an interest for cooperation with Hurtigruten and had a negotiation in Tromso in November last year. The Arkhangelsk tour-operators were a bit disappointed after a seminar in Murmansk in December when Hurtigruten made a first presentation of its Russian plans. They assumed that the world famous company is going to limit its activity by Murmansk while Arkhangelsk could hardly be seen in its long-run strategy. But Mr. Luhr has slightly encouraged the local actors of tourism business. He said that Arkhangelsk can become not only the main sea gate for the Russian tourists going to Norway but when literally planning it can be the main base for the Arctic cruises and a good attraction for the tourists flows from other territories of Russia and Norway. In the interview to the regional newspaper Mr. Luhr said that in the long-run perspective the company is planning to establish a permanent cruise communication along the White sea coast where Arkhangelsk can be the main destination harbor. It is only left to know when the Hurtigruten liners can appear near the berth of the Pomor capital and if they will be widely available for the Russian because all 14 boats of Hurtigruten is now full-time employed and can not be used in the Russian direction. Anyhow, the hope for a big boat which came from Norway may become a powerful stimulus for further tourism infrastructure development in the region and substantially correct the strategy of the local tourism companies. Photo: Nadezhda Shilova