In 2022 the tourist flow to Baikal grew by at least 40% compared to the previous year. The highest load is observed in the territory of three specially protected natural areas: Pribaikalsky, Zabaikalsky, and Tunkinsky National Parks. However, the increase in the amount of tourists is not only an additional profit to the budget, but also an escalation of previously unresolved problems.
Actual problems of Baikal in tourism sector:
- lack of comfortable toilets;
- unstable mobile communication and limited coverage area;
- limited possibility of cashless payment;
- underdevelopment of hotel business and catering;
- accessibility and comfort of transport: number of vehicles on the route, ticket price, quality of services, possibility to buy tickets online;
- lack of waste containers in recreation areas and/or frequency of waste collection;
- low level of culture of some visitors.
Problems mentioned above lead to:
- dissatisfaction with recreation;
- uncontrolled landfills;
- pollution and destruction of the unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal.
The solution to these problems can come not only at the initiative and expense of the state.
Оne of the current areas of the Foundation’s work is the development and support of small and medium business on Lake Baikal, based on the principles of sustainable development and aimed at solving environmental and social problems of the Baikal region.
For example, last year the Foundation held a grant contest for small and medium businesses called Green Steps. Five winners of this grant competition successfully implemented their environmental initiatives.
Is it possible to increase the tourist flow and at the same time to preserve the unique nature of Lake Baikal?
It is possible if the principles of sustainable development form the basis of recreation organization: ecological requirements are high and enforceable, businessmen care about nature and local population, and tourists are responsible. This implies well-thought-out and convenient infrastructure, quality service, as well as strengthening of ecological education both at Lake Baikal and all over the country,
Olga Amelkina, senior project manager of the Lake Baikal Foundation.