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The 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Tourism Hosted by Rosa Khutor

The 2nd international conference «Sustainable Tourism: Global Challenges and Discovering Russia»took place at the Rosa Khutor mountain resort from the 16th to the 19th of October 2019.

The first conference, in the fall of 2018, formed a platform for constructive dialogue between Russian and foreign experts in ecotourism, environmentalists, and tourism professionals.

More than two hundred people took part in this year’s event, and fifty speakers from Russia’s different regions, Canada, France, Belarus and Abkhasia discussed challenges and opportunities for ecotourism’s sustainable development.

Among the key speakers were representatives of the State Duma’s Committee on Tourism, Sports and Youth Policy, the Ministry of Nature of the Russian Federation, IUCN ECARO, Rostourism, WWF Russia, Roszapovedcenter, Vanoise National Park, Un Environment Russia, Center for Strategic Research, Federation of Sport Tourism, Norilsk Development Agency and many others. In focus were both legal and practical issues. Experts discussed new legislative and grass-roots initiatives required for the sustainable development of ecotourism in Russia.
The common take-away was that «to become nature lovers, people need to have access to nature». Thus, the number one task is to create a legislative framework, currently all but non-existent.

Sergey Bachin, Rosa Khutor’s CEO, believes that legislative and regulatory frameworks should be in line with goals in the development of tourism in general, and ecotourism specifically.

In his words, «Sustainable tourism goes beyond the impressions left by time spent in a natural environment, or the significant contributions towards nature preservation; it includes the arrangement of key services — transporting tourists to the site, providing lodging, ensuring their safety in every sense of the word, including health services».

The conference outcomes will be considered by the State Duma. Legislators have already begun work on a bill to build the foundation for ecotourism and agricultural tourism, which would allow the significant broadening of opportunities for a new branch of the tourism industry in Russia.

Vyacheslav Fetisov, the UN Goodwill Ambassador, First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth at the State Duma, stated: «Together with our colleagues in the State Duma we’re now working on a bill on sustainable, agricultural and ecotourism. As soon as I am back in Moscow, we will promote it on the floor. I think the government will also come out in support of it.»

The conference’s main outcome is the idea that sustainable tourism model in specially protected natural territories will ensure an influx of tourists, while the revenues they bring will allow to offset the consequences of human activity, and develop infrastructure limiting the impact of tourism on the environment.

Sustainable tourism may become a means to foster sustainable development of specially protected natural areas by creating the conditions for investment, tourism (including research and recreation), and social activities.

All of the above should be reflected in the strategy for tourism development in Russia through 2035.

The Conference was attended by representatives from the UN Environmental Program, International Nature Preservation Union, WWF Russia, Ecocenter Nature Reserves, Foundation Dersu Uzala, Dmitry and Matvey Shparo’s Adventure Club Foundation, Amur Tiger Center, Association for the Development of National Trails, North Caucasus Resorts AO, the Caucasus Nature Reserve, Taymyr’s Nature Reserves, Sikhote-Alinsky Nature Reserve, Kronotsky Nature Reserve, Orenburg Nature Reserves, Russian Arctic National Park, Kenozersky National Park, Bashkir National Park, Sochi National Park, Stolbi Nature Sanctuary, and the Nature Bird Park in the Imereti Lowlands.

The Conference was organized by UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Arctic and the Antarctic Vyacheslav Fetisov’s «Slava»«Charity, the Ministry of Nature of Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russian Federation, Roszapovedcenter, Rostourism, Federation of Sport Tourism of Russia, Center for Strategy Development and the Interros Group.