– Alexander Vsevolodovich, in 2014 you announced the project for the creation of the Zapovedny Les park and in 2016 you transferred it to the Investment Council of the Novosibirsk Region. Judging by the report of the investment commissioner, it is still on the list of investment plans of the Novosibirsk mayor’s office marked “to be determined by the investor”. At what stage is this project now and does it make sense to implement it?
– I still have the desire to implement this project. There is interest in this project from the governor and the mayor, but then everything will depend on whether this project finds understanding from the federal government. The fact is that the “Preserved Forest” implies large and large investments. At 2016 prices, the creation of the park required 10 billion rubles. If it is created now, then it is necessary to look for an economic model with serious participation of the state, with a complete view of the territory, to develop the area as a tourist destination and to attract tourists. Without a good tourist flow, the project will be impossible to implement. If we can find an option when all stakeholders behave adequately and do not try to put a beam on the wheel, then everything can go well.
– Now at the federal level, there is a clear trend towards the development of domestic tourism. Did you discuss the park as part of these programs?
– Everyone is declaratively ready, but when it comes to real practical decisions, you come across cotton – no one says NO, but no positive decision is made either. It is clear that for the most part employees are created to interfere in business and prevent it from carrying out projects. To some extent, this is useful, because if everything is easy for the entrepreneur, then he can rush and do stupid things or go crazy at the first difficulties. Obstacles created by the authorities force companies to weigh and re-evaluate their ideas repeatedly and only then to proceed with their implementation. On the other hand, how our state spends money from the budget – business I never dreamed of, just hug and cry…
Personally, I believe that the development of tourism is the only direction that the Novosibirsk Region can go. No country in the world can be described as economically developed if its share in industrial production is over 26%. In general, our region has already passed this milestone, but trade still dominates the services sector. Today, the productivity of working in the best companies in the world is so high that a group of 100-1000 people can sometimes provide the necessary products to the whole world. For example, microchip or medicine.
In 2018, the share of industrial production in the United States was 17.8%, in China it is much higher, but now these figures tend to decrease due to robotization and automation of all processes. The share of agriculture in the US is 3.8%, in the world – 4.6%. At the same time, the use of a John Deere complex in the agro-industrial complex leaves about 70 people out of work: they take to the streets. Tourism is the direction that involves the liberated population in the business turnover. Yes, the industry is unlikely to absorb older people, but young people can easily find a wide variety of jobs. Statistics show that in the last 10 years, every fourth job in the world has been created in the tourism industry. Every third key employee works in this field. Today, the tourism industry is the largest industry in the global economy. If there was no pandemic (industry fell by 48% in 2020), then it would now occupy 12.5% of world GDP. In addition, the uniqueness of the industry is that it does not conflict with the interests of the local population. Everything you and I need as locals: good roads, beautiful streets, shops, restaurants, theaters, stadiums, museums, skating rinks, parks, tourists we also need. It is difficult to maintain all this only at the expense of the city’s income, but you can transfer part of the cost to tourists.
Maybe I will try to go with this project to the company Tourism.RF, which was recently created to unlock the economic potential of domestic tourism in Russia. Judging by the public information, the company supports several large projects in the tourism industry.
– Is there interest in the project from private investors? Now many entrepreneurs are looking for where to invest money due to the fact that the situation in the financial markets is unstable and the withdrawal of funds abroad is limited …
– Back in 2016, I threw a bait. We worked out the idea and I said I was ready to take on the costs and expenses that are less profitable – the hotel business. Today its return is 6.5% before taxes. With our taxation the final return can be negative … There were no investors then. Now I receive calls from time to time, there is interest, but to make it real, we need real land concession, real technical conditions, real work that has passed the examination. Only for me this, honestly, is very hard. It takes a lot of money. In a friendly way, all the preparatory work should be done for the budget lines, the project should be approved and only then should it attract investors in order to return the invested budget money and receive profitability. By analogy with the PLP, when the infrastructure was created, to which the inhabitants came.
– That is, each site of the project, in your opinion, can have its own resident?
– Undoubtedly. The Reserve Forest Park is a huge project that includes a landscape park, sports facilities, quiet recreation areas, dining areas, concert venues, various public areas, tourist accommodation and an indoor amusement park.
For example, the indoor Dream Island amusement park in Moscow and the largest in Europe occupies about 100 hectares. Its covered part exceeds 30 acres or 300,000 square meters. m – just a city under a glass roof, where people walk like an ordinary street, in the countryside, along which, as in an ordinary street, there are shops, restaurants, fountains, trees.
– During the presentation of your project, you determined the location of Zaeltsovsky Bor. But now the area is drafting a law on specially protected natural areas. That is, in the future, the route to this location will be blocked by law for the project …
– The Law on Protected Areas does not concern this. The law says that in the park and in the forest it is impossible to build houses, to place industrial production, landfills for the disposal of waste. But the park can get there, especially because part of the infrastructure has already been set up: this is a zoo, a dolphinarium. In addition, let me remind you that a serious project is currently underway to improve the Zaeltsovsky Park, worth more than 380 million rubles. This is the result of the ideas we promoted in 2014. We have met repeatedly with Deputy Mayor Anna Tereshkova, we have discussed this issue and she is completely immersed in it, she knows our idea. What the City Hall is currently implementing is a landscape park, an idea for the development of urban greenery, without which there is no park in the world today.
You are talking about an indoor amusement park …
– And in our climate it is pointless to build another. It will never work. It is summer in Sochi for half a year and a few more months relatively normal weather for walking in the fresh air. Our outdoor attraction will only be open for 2-3 summer months, if it is not obstructed by rain, as well as mosquitoes and gnats. Indoor will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. For example, like a water park.
But, of course, it must be filled properly, so that it is interesting for visitors of all ages and hobbies. There should be a city of professions and trampolines, a technical museum like the one built by Galileo and an amusement park for all ages.
When I visit other countries, I personally always visit technical museums and I see that now the interactive reality with amazing special effects is one of the main achievements of the world parks. This completely restructures the way children think, their eyes light up, there is interest in the world around them, a desire to learn about its laws and create, and not just sitting on the phone or computer.
A modern amusement park is not just a movie theater and slides, it is a sea of interaction.
For me personally, the most offensive thing is that we have all this in Novosibirsk and our innovators can create absolutely amazing, unique things. You just have to make a decision with a strong will, find an organizer, combine everything into one project and start attracting investors.