Resting in the ice
The Russian Government has submitted to the State Duma a draft law intended to develop cruise tourism in the Arctic zone and in the Far East of Russia, streamline the calls of foreign cruise ships in the mentioned regions. The industry experts believe that Arctic cruises have a good development potential but investments into infrastructure are needed.
Not by Pole alone …
According to the draft law submitted to the State Duma, points of tourist interest attraction will be determined in the Arctic and in the Far East as well as ports to welcome foreign cruise ships. There will be a list of such ports approved by RF Government.
It should be noted that Arctic cruises onboard icebreakers were started in Russia long time ago. For example, cruises to the North Pole onboard the 50 Let Pobedy icebreaker are available from Murmansk. However, the number of cruises involving nuclear-powered icebreakers can be reduced in case of fast development of the Northern Sea Route since the icebreakers will be used more intensely for their direct purpose – escorting the convoys of cargo ships. Besides, it is a niche-focused and exotic type of cruise tourism. Therefore, it is reasonable to attract foreign cruise companies so that their vessels could enter Russian ports ant tourists could visit Russian cities and spend money there.
There are some positive examples on this way. For example, Norwegian company Hurtigruten arranging cruises in Polar waters included the calls to the Frantz Josef Land into its 2019 schedule. In August-September, there will be two voyages onboard the Spitsbergen with the calls to Murmansk where the passengers will pass the border control procedures when entering and leaving the waters of Russia. Murmansk is on the list of ports where foreigners are allowed to stay without visa for 72 hours. Murmansk passenger terminal has recently undergone a reconstruction.
However, that is not enough. First of all, it is necessary to increase the number of such voyages. Secondly, they should be attracted to other cities like Arkhangelsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Vladivostok, Korsakov.
As Sergey Kotenev, Director General of St.Peter Line, told IAA PortNews, cruise shipping in the Arctic and Far East regions of Russia have a good potential but requires investments in the infrastructure development.
As of today, both cruise and cargo segments of the fleet see a clear enlargement trend focused on a decrease of a unit cost. Therefore, such ships require sufficient depth for such ships to call. For example, the expert says dredging works are to be performed in Vladivostok which is an attractive port of visit for tourists.
Besides, the schedule of global cruise companies covers a period of 2.5-3 years. So, infrastructure should be prepared in advance and such companies’ management should be informed about it.
According to Sergey Kotenev, Russian ports of the mentioned regions with adequate road infrastructure could welcome ships carrying 2,000-3,000 passengers. This potential should be attributed to the growing interest to cruise tourism worldwide and the search for new interesting cruise routes. Arctic and Far East regions of Russia are among them.