Eco-tourism development in Russia will begin with arrangement of hiking trails

26 june 2017

Experts of the Analytical Center discussed the creation of the Great Baikal trail, which will become a part of the program of domestic tourism development and establishment of the system of Russian national trails. The discussion covered the issues of determining the legal status of national trails and tourist itineraries, problems of their development and regulation.

"We consider trails to be a part of tourist infrastructure but as it seen from foreign experience, they are also a tool for capitalization of territories allowing to increase entrepreneurial activity and generate income flow," said Denis Yershov, an expert of the Analytical Center.

“Trails need not only construction, but maintaining, too", the Chairman of the Association of Eco-tourism Development in the Republic of Buryatia "Great Baikal Trail", Andrey Suknev said. He was supported by the Head of the interregional public organization, the Great Baikal Trail, Yelena Chubakova, who noted that established trails resolve a whole range of problems which are eco-system conservation, localization of tourist flow, development of tourism infrastructure, access to attractions, development of small settlements, fire protection, organization of places for garbage collection, and jobs creation. "The trail itself is a component of eco-tourism, which includes a large complex of activities: summer and winter volunteer projects, field classes for students, and game programs," the specialist said.

But in the opinion of experts, currently, the trail recreational culture does not exist in Russia. "It is necessary to explain to people that this is interesting," the Professor of the Russian State University of Tourism and Service, Mikhail Sarancha said. But there is not enough infrastructure to attract tourists massively.

Accoeding to the participants of the round table, the most pressing challenge of eco-tourism development is financing and, to be more accurate, its absence. "In recent years, financing is very limited, which does not allow organizations to implement a large number of projects", Ms. Chubakova said.

The participants of the round-table believe that the interest in both eco-tourism development in general and tourist trails in particular is high, and the Baikal Trail can provide a positive example of development for other national trails.