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They extend winter and move mountains: Russia’s best tourism projects have been announced

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They extend winter and move mountains: Russia’s best tourism projects have been announced

30.01.2019

Sergey Vinogradov 

In 2018 ten tourism projects were honored with Russian Federation Government Awards. The project owners received one million rubles each. The list included visitor centers, tourism facilities and complete clusters from various regions of Russia – from Sochi to Tver, from Karelia to Khabarovsk Krai. The Russkiy Mir Portal met the award recipients and noticed one common feature despite the diversity of ideas and approaches: in addition to its commercial aspect, each and every project embodies something new to draw attention to the region and open new opportunities for local residents. For example, experts of the Russian Geographical Society consult Karelian Ruskeala Park, and a professional archaeologist is among the founders of the historical park in Primorsky Krai.

Sensitive to everything new and advanced, foreign tourists have already expressed their support for Russian projects (among those honored by the government) with dollars, euros, yen, yuan and other currencies. All employees in Ruskeala speak Finnish (this is a precondition for employment); tourist come to the visitor village of Mandrogi (in the Leningrad Region) from all over Europe to experience life of XIX century Russian peasants; almost all Asian dialects are spoken on the slops of the Kholdomi Ski Resort in Khabarovsk Krai.

Primorye: listen to the land on which you work

Owners of some projects honored with the Government Award have similar stories. He/she decided to earn some money and came up with a risk-free business. Then doing it and going further, he/she saw something completely new, something out of line and changed the direction, leaving partners and friends speechless, and fighting his/her way through mood hoovers.

Sergey Vakulenko who built the Emerald Valley Russian Historical Landscape Park near Ussuriysk, initially planned a regular recreation center with BBQ, banya (sauna), boats and etc. If you are not greedy in pricing, guests flow will be endless. But during development of construction site, he found out that a famous archaeological monument was located nearby and then met the historian Alexander Mezentsov. After their conversation the project changed beyond recognition. The entrepreneur sensed urge for coming back to historical roots, which was floating around, and placed his bet on it.

Currently the park accommodates a complete wooden town with buildings of traditional Russian architecture - peasant and merchant houses, a watchtower, a forge, a bathhouse and even a prison. Life and spirit of ancestors has been recreated in exquisite detail. There is even a European fort, a medieval shooting gallery, a fairytale forest, a lake of lotuses and much more.

Sergei Vakulenko says that at first he didn’t know what the Russian historical park would look like - there was nobody to spy on and get idea from. So they built slowly, experimenting at every turn. According to the entrepreneur, during the construction process he learned to “listen to the land” they worked on. Sometimes it did not allow him to turn design he had on paper into reality and suggested new unexpected solutions. Flooding hit the park in the midst of construction and broke a lot of buildings. Someone else would sink into despair. But the force of nature inspired Sergey to change the project and include water (streams and lakes) into the park landscape, as well as into historical storyline.

Photo credit: dvpark.ru

Russian people appear energetic, inquisitive, developed and capable of learning in the Emerald Valley. However, here you cannot find confirmation of the common cliché: excessive drinking is an integral feature of the Russians. Vakulenko banned drinking and smoking in the park by his strict order.


Karelia: going through the mountain

Media often says that Alexander Artemyev, who came up with idea of a mountain park and then implemented it as Ruskeala in Karelia, is the “owner of the marble mountain”. Though, probably, Akhmatova’s "If you knew what rubbish ..." would suit him better. After all, he did not get the marble mountain ready-made, as in the case of Alice and the Wonderland. It had been the mining disposal site that was transformed into the park. Ruskeala has become famous throughout the world and hosts guided tours now.

Photo credit: ruskeala.ru

Today it is called unique at least in three languages ​​- Russian, Finnish (Ruskeala has been recognized as the only mining park in Russia and Finland) and English. Three years ago, The Guardian, a British newspaper, named Ruskeala the top attraction of the Russian province. Every year the park welcomes more than 300,000 people, significant part of which is foreigners, mostly from Finland and the Baltic countries. However, in recent years, the omnipresent Chinese have been actively competing with them.  Speaking Finnish is a must to be employed in Ruskeala; fringe benefit is paid for each spoken language in addition.

The guided tour program includes stories about work of mining masters and marble mined here, which was used for building palaces in young St. Petersburg.

Marble has been mined In the Sortavala region of Karelia for centuries. There were 12 quarries here in the best years. The last quarry was closed in the 1990s. Last year Alexander Artemyev celebrated 20th anniversary since his project commencement. Once friends brought him to an abandoned quarry and challenged his imagination, which he had in abundance, as well as energy and courage.

Photo credit: ruskeala.ru

Back then, in the late 1990s, there were financial challenges that they faced, as well as challenges from criminals. The quarry was full of metal waste. They even had to pull out one whole old "KAMAZ" from the marble pits. And they managed. Two years later, the quarry welcomed the first tourists.

Ruskeala is a place where educational recreation and real science have met. Scientific research has been carried out in the mountain park to this day. In particular, members of the Russian Geographical Society work here, which help the park to become one of the Russian capitals of eco-tourism.


Khabarovsk Krai: skiing in October

The Kholdomi Ski Resort is located near Komsomolsk-on-Amur. It has already been considered the Far Eastern Courchevel. The Resort was opened 15 years ago, but only in recent years it has got a chance to become one of the best skiing destinations in the Russian Far East and Asian countries. The artificial snowmaking system installed in Kholdomi will double the ski season and set the Resort free from nature's caprices.

Photo credit: tourister.ru

Vitaly Burlakov, the general director of the complex, said that the trails with artificial snowmaking would be open from October to May. There is no any other place alike in the Asian region; even the Olympic facilities of the Korean Pyeongchang cannot offer that. Moreover, the Resort declared that it would welcome visitors all-year-round. Tens of thousands of the Russians and foreigners come for rest and recreation every year (according to the plan, the number of visitors should reach 250 000 per year). The Resort also hosts various sports competitions and youth forums.

Renowned Russian athletes have been seen on local slopes. Sports experts believe that Kholdomi will provide Russian mountain skiers and snowboarders with great advantage. Next winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, and Khabarovsk Krai is the best of places created by nature to get acclimatized for the Chinese Games.
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