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North Caucasus Tourism Boost

The seaside resort town of Sochi, with its many mineral spas and beautiful beaches, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia. It was also recently the venue for the 10th Annual Sochi International Investment Forum – an important economic conference with foreign investors, Russian commercial elite and Russian authorities discussing large scale international agreements for the development of sustainable tourism in the spectacular North Caucasus region.

While the development of tourism opportunities is likely to be financially rewarding for all parties involved, there is agreement that this should not be at the expense of the environment and natural beauty of the region. Earlier this year, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had announced plans to build a network of different resorts throughout the North Caucasus region, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. With mountains that rival the Alps in size and height, the Caucasus Mountains are a source of relatively untapped tourism revenue that could be utilized responsibly. The Russian government has made a commitment to develop ecotourism sites in the region, while adhering strictly to international conservation and ecological standards and preserving the region's cultural heritage and natural resources.

This year's Sochi Forum also focused on the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held on the Krasnaya Polyana ski slopes of Western Caucasus. As with all developments in the region, the emphasis will be on preserving the ecosystem and sustainable development, and it is anticipated that a number of foreign investors will support the event. Environmental groups such as the All-Russia Society for Nature Protection, the World Wildlife Fund, and experts on ecological policy in the European Alpine region, will be participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics project which includes numerous tourist accommodation options and a huge ski resort complex.

Authorities and organizations represented at the conference included the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the Deputy Chairperson of the Government of the Russian Federation D. Kozak, the Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation E. Nabiulina, and the Governor of the Krasnodar Region A. Tkachev. In a keynote speech at the conference Mr. Putin assured potential investors of Russia's commitment to turn its economy around, while cautioning that the global financial crisis is not yet over. By the end of the 10th Annual Sochi International Investment Forum it was reported that around 300 agreements had been signed between the representatives of 55 regions both in Russia and abroad, providing an exciting boost for the tourism industry in Russia’s North Caucasus region.


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