“Only shadow businesses may not like this”: five benefits of the Valla-Tunturi project in the Murmansk region

The aim of the new cluster is to attract tourists to Nikel and Zapolyarny.

A photograph: Anton ZABIROV

The Murmansk region has become very attractive to tourists in recent years. Now that the emphasis is on domestic tourism, the interest has grown even more. There are constant reports in the press about new tourist sites and some investors, in order to attract attention, are even ready to compose the history of these areas, hoping for a greater influx of tourists. Although even without beautiful legends, the land of Murmansk has attracted and will continue to attract more and more people who want to admire the harsh nature of the Arctic and touch history.

But, perhaps, is the tourist project “Valla-Tunturi”, which will be implemented near the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas. Forbes magazine called it one of the most ambitious in the world, on a par with submarine or space hotels. It is true that, unlike similar initiatives, we are implementing a cluster in the Arctic even in view of the pressure of sanctions on Russia. Norilsk Nickel is going to spend tens of billions of rubles on its creation.

The Pechenga region, which will be the base for Valla-Tunturi, has Finnish roots – these lands once belonged to Finland, where fishermen, hunters and reindeer herders lived. Many now associate the area with industry due to the presence of Norilsk nickel in Nikel and Zapolyarny. At the same time, the Sredny and Rybachy Peninsulas, which so excite the tourist imagination, are unjustifiably fading into the background, although these and nearby areas may be the protagonists in this economic performance.

In 2021, the Murmansk region set its own record for the number of tourists – 486 thousand people. But that is not the limit: by 2030, they want to raise the bar to one million people. And since the Arctic is, first and foremost, nature, a significant portion of visitors to the area can only come to the Sredny and Rybachy Peninsulas and the Pechenga region. And this is the first force of the project.

– I am definitely pleased with such a project – this is our evolution, from wherever we look at this issue. “Investment investment and tourism revenue – this will also be a lucrative part of the region’s budget,” he told KP-Murmansk. Andrey Kuznetsov, head of the administration of the Pechenga circle. – Our task is to ensure that tourists not only come to our flagship – Sredny and Rybachy, but also want to visit settlements, for example, Nikel and Zapolyarny, to see something else. To do this, we need to create an infrastructure, in which Valla-Tunturi will help us.

Cluster is the appearance of a hotel complex, tourist village, camping near the peninsulas, the construction of hiking trails and roads, the creation of organized places for fishing. Also, the construction of a seaport with the possibility of receiving cruise ships is planned. According to preliminary estimates, 1,600 jobs will be created (the second definitely plus). Now tourism in the Pechenga region is wilder, killing the fragile nature of the Far North.

In September 2021, Citymatic, a regional municipal waste management agency, carried out an environmental mission to the peninsulas and volunteers collected 17 cubic meters of rubbish in one week. And this is only a small part of what needs to be removed: the spontaneous tourist flow, in the absence of organized rubbish dumps, has led to the fact that waste is thrown away where it is needed.

“Valla-Tunturi” will be located near the Sredniy and Rybachy peninsulas.

A photograph: Oleg FILONOK

Another big problem is the destruction of the soil layer. Tourists with ATVs and powerful cars drive on incredible trails, literally plowing moss, moss and plants. It takes decades to recover!

– Sredny and Rybachy represent a unique northern ecosystem, which is extremely vulnerable and difficult to restore. There are also six particularly valuable natural areas on the peninsulas with bird colonies and nesting grounds for large eagles. Barents Branch of WWF Russia.

A third conclusion emerges from this: Valla Tunturi will help solve these problems as much as possible. It is not only nature that suffers, but also man-made objects. Thus, tourists once painted an object of cultural heritage – petroglyphs (rock paintings) on the Rybachy Peninsula.

Using the example of the creation of the Teriberka Natural Park, we can say that wild tourism can be reduced. Less than a year has passed since the registration of the new protected area, but even now in Teriberka violations are more often identified that are detrimental to a single corner of the earth. And tourists note that it has become more enjoyable to be there: there are more hotels, cafes and entertainment. The same prediction is for Valla Tunturi: more tourists will come, but poachers (including crabs), “black diggers”, rogue drivers will be taken into account.

Of course, the latter will not like it, because it will be very difficult to compete with an honest company. And the implementation of Valla-Tunturi is for them like a red rag for a bull, so they want to discredit the project. Hence the critique that appears as custom on social networks.

Do not forget that the Pechenga region is also a place of military glory. Fierce battles took place on land, water and air. Every year, explorers, students, local historians, historians and all those who are not indifferent go to Musta-Tunturi, to many monuments. The northerners, who have always been reverent about the memory of the Great Patriotic War and the events of the difficult military times on the Kola Peninsula, fear that the development of tourism will affect this memory. Although the project can, on the contrary, save it. But who certainly does not like the fact that spontaneous access to places of military glory can be complicated is the so-called “black excavators”, lovers of acquiring wartime items and selling them to private collectors for a lot of money. The media has written about it more than once. And when sophisticated posts on the same social networks appear that tourist facilities under construction are said to desecrate the memory of the war, the thought inadvertently comes to mind: whose interests may be affected by the tourist complex? Most experts agree that this is exactly the kind of project that will help preserve memory and prevent vandalism. And this is the fourth aspect.

– Now we see a picture that many such objects are already collapsing and no one is restoring them. But history can be treated differently. Many places can be restored with money from tourism, to open them to the public. The main thing is to approach it with satisfaction, – he notes Murmansk Regional Duma deputy, former head of Zapolyarny and deputy of the local municipal council Lyubov Cherepanova. – Norilsk Nickel is a large company that if it undertakes obligations, then it fulfills them. If tourism is developed, it will include logistics, food shops, organization of various events, road construction, including those for memorable places. The shadow tourism business may not like this, because with a big company everything will be open and transparent.

The fifth advantage of the Valla-Tunturi project is that it has become a resident of the Arctic, which means tax deductions in the consolidated budget of the Murmansk region. And that is billions of rubles over the next decade. And in general, the cluster will enable small and medium-sized enterprises to remain upright in our difficult times. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2026. The “Valla-Tunturi” should become one of the drivers of the Murmansk region’s economy, even if unscrupulous drivers and diggers do not like it and will not end their activities.

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