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Tourism and Recreation

Source:  Molotov V.S. State Management of the Baikal Region Natural Resources / V.S. Molotov, K.Sh. Shagzhiyev; ed. by V.P. Orlov, N.G. Rybalsky. – Moscow, NIA-Priroda Rublishers, 1999. – 244 p. – [Ch. 2.9. Recreation Resources and Recreation Activity]. – pp. 121-126.

1. Natural-informative tourism
2. Cultural tourism
3. Scientific tourism
4. Sport tourism
5. Hunting tourism, sport fishing
6. Religious tourism
7. Commercial tourism 
8. Mass tourism
9. Recreation potential estimation and the Republic of Buryatia zone division
10. Health resorts, sanatoria
11. Mass stationary recreation
12. Travel agencies
13. Recreation stream structure analysis

The Baikal region possesses various recreation resources which are represented by the unique Lake Baikal nature complex, mineral springs, medicinal muds, forests, developed hydrographic system, numerous sights such as natural objects, historical, archaeological and material culture monuments, picturesque landscapes, various species of animals and fishes as well as by the territories with favourable and relatively favourable climatic conditions for recreation activities.

The main types of recreation activities are sanatorium and resort treatment, tourism and mass recreation.

On the whole territory of Russia Lake Baikal basin is known as a region full of balneological resources. Their overwhelming part is situated on the Republic of Buryatia territory. The number of mineral sources of the republic is about 20% of the general number of them on the former USSR territory. About 30 mineral sources with carbonaceous waters and 23 medicinal muds displays are known and studied to different extent there. The biggest number of such springs is found out in the Severobaikalsk, the Barguzin, the Kurumkan and the Tunka districts.

By the number of medicinal muds displays and their balance reserves the Kurumkan, the Barguzin, the Tunka, the Pribaikalsk and the Kyakhta districts are distinguished. It is necessary to mention that the Republic of Buryatia medicinal muds have not been studied enough, especially their balneological properties. The climatic conditions of the Dzhida, the Kyakhta, the Selenginsk and the Tunka districts are favourable for exploitation of the sanatorium and resort institutions all the year round.

The duration of the optimum weather conditions does not allow to consider the territory of the republic as suitable for climatic resorts broad development. Only within the comfortable period the main type of climatic treatment is acceptable, aerogeliotherapy.
The peculiarity of the medicinal recreation type in Buryatia is application of the rational experience of the Tibetan medicine in medical treatment and prevention medicine.

One of the main prerequisites of the development of different types of tourism in the Republic of Buryatia is Lake Baikal, a unique phenomenon of the planet which is considered to be the main sight of the Republic of Buryatia by 80% of the questioned people.
An extremely rich vegetation and animal world of the lake is a prerequisite for the development of natural and informative, botanical and zoological scientific tourism. The prerequisite of the development of natural-informative and hydrological scientific tourism can be the phenomena so rare for lakes as stationary waves, tides, mirages, three-layered clouds and constant currents on the Baikal.

Lake Baikal which is a world value for the development of tourism, is a prerequisite for organizing information water tours. But the specific character of the wind, ice and wave regimens make some limitations in the lake recreation development. The lake is cleared of the ice late, the southern part in the end of May, the northern part in the first half of June. By the storms the Baikal is the first among the world lakes, and the most stormy and dangerous rough sea period is October-December. The sailing conditions are complicated with thick stable fogs, the maximum recurrence of which is in July.

Lake Baikal is distinguished among other lakes of the world with little recreation development of the coast and in this aspect is very valuable for the categories of tourists who are interested in little developed territories.

The Baikal gives people great joy and immense enjoyment, and it is possible to suppose that the emotional delight which a person gets after visiting the Baikal is one of the main prerequisites of people’s trips around its coasts.


There are more than 300 natural monuments in the republic and 3 nature reserves: the Barguzinsky, the Baikalsky, the Dzherginsky ones and 2 national parks: the Zabaikalsky and the Tunkinsky ones where the nature protection activity can be naturally joined with the recreation one. In 17 administrative districts of the republic picturesque and most picturesque landscapes  prevail and informative, mostly bus routes go via 13 administrative districts. The biggest number of natural monuments per unit of territory is in the Selenginsk, the Ivolginsk, the Kyakhta and the Tunka districts, the biggest number of informative routes go via the territories of the Tunka and the Barguzin districts and the city of Ulan Ude. The most preferable territories for organizing natural-informative tourism are those of the Tunka and the Barguzin districts where there are the most picturesque landscapes, the specially guarding natural territories and the number of informative routes and natural monuments is considerably big.


More than 1,500 historic and cultural monuments, including 35 monuments of federal significance can be the objects of cultural tourism. The biggest number of historic and cultural monuments and museums per territory unit is accumulated in the city of Ulan Ude and in the Kyakhta district; there, and in the Barguzin, the Ivolginsk, the Kabansk, the Pribaikalsk, the Selenginsk and the Khorinsk districts are historic and cultural monuments of federal significance. It makes prerequisites for organizing of the cultural tourism and informative tourist routes go via these territories.

In the Republic there are prerequisites for organizing ethnocultural tourism. Both the ethnographic museum of the Zabaikalye (Transbaikal) people and modern historical and ethnographic zones can be the visiting objects for there are still traditional settling places and often there is the traditional lifestyle there.
 As for informative tourism on the whole the main prerequisite for organizing foreign tourism is the little changed natural and cultural environment.


Among the scientific tourism types the opportunities of ornithological tourism should be specially distinguished. It is mostly explained by the fact that the ornithological fauna of the Republic makes up more than 47% of the former USSR ornithological fauna. The Selenga delta is of significant interest in this aspect, it is the biggest reserve of waterfowl and by-the-water birds which gather there during the spring and summer arrivals, moult and nesting seasons. The biggest number of ornithological fauna species and rare birds species are in the Kabansk, the Dzhida and the Selenginsk districts.


The territory of Buryatia possesses certain prerequisites for the development of different types of sport tourism. The most preferable territories for sport tourism are those which are least developed economically. First of all they are the Baikal itself and its surroundings; the south-western district including the Khamar-Daban and the Tunka cavity mountain systems; the northern district including the northern and the north-western parts of the Severobaikalsk district; the southern one is the district of water trips along the Selenga river and its tributaries.

The most favourable conditions for organizing sport tourism are in the Oka, the Tunka and the Severobaikalsk districts.


The Republic of Buryatia which is a traditional district of commercial hunting has opportunities for the development of hunting tourism and sport fishing. The republic administrative districts have a big reserve of wild animals, birds, fishes and sea animals which are of interest as hunting and sport fishing tourism. Analysis of the periods of commercial species hunting and fishing proposed as the hunting and sport fishing tourism objects shows that the bigger part of hunting tourism is in winter months with frosty weather (-25-35˚C). The nerpa (the Baikal seal) hunting is of special character, it is in March-April on the Baikal ice. It possible to organize sport fishing throughout the whole year with the exception of April, May and June and is divided into the summer (fishing-rod, spinning) and winter (ice) fishing. Rich and various fauna of the republic, as well as the unique Lake Baikal and the surrounding nature make prerequisites for organizing photo- and film- hunting aimed at getting emotional pleasure. The most favourable conditions for organizing hunting tourism are in the Severobaikalsky district.


In the Republic of Buryatia there are prerequisites for organizing religious tourism because the republic is the centre of Buddhism of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Like Islamic hadj (religious pilgrimage), a bigger part of Buddhists attend the Ivolginsk datsan (monastery) and the number of visits is much bigger in the periods of religious and folk festivals and religious leaders’ visits. The development of tourism is promoted by datsans construction and reconstruction developed in recent years.


Close geographic neighbourhood of the Republic of Buryatia and Mongolia, economic and political situation in the country, historic and cultural traditions of Kyakhta which took an important place in the foreign trade of Russia and Asian countries in the second half of the 18th century, promote the development of commercial tourism in the region including business tourism and shop-tours. Especially favourable conditions for that type of tourism are in Kyakhta and Ulan Ude.


The territory of the Republic of Buryatia possesses certain natural opportunities for organizing different types of mass recreation. Picturesque landscapes of the Republic of Buryatia favour the development of mass recreation and tourism. The most picturesque landscapes prevail in the administrative districts adjacent to Lake Baikal, the Severobaikalsky, the Barguzin, the Pribaikalsk, the Kabansk ones, as well as in the Zakamensky, the Kurumkan, the Oka, the Tunka and the khorinsk districts. Out of 21 districts of the republic 10 possess picturesque and most picturesque landscapes, and 7 districts possess picturesque landscapes. Among the main elements defining the potential of the territory for mass recreation there are the forests occupying 63% of the territory of the region under consideration. But a number of negative properties of the forests (low bonitet, the larch prevalence, swamped, thinned forests on the slopes of more than 30˚) makes their recreation significance low. The forests are rich in mushrooms, nuts and berries. The main collecting places are the territories adjacent to the roads 10-15 km wide. The rivers are little favourable for swimming, only the Selenga with its tributaries and the Barguzin in the plain parts have the duration of the swimming season of 2 months, July and August. The plain lakes are more favourable for swimming, the Kotokel, the Shchuchye, the Gusinoye and Yeravna lakes. Lake Baikal has limited opportunities for swimming which is possible in shallow warmed bays where the average month temperature in July-August is +15-17˚C, and in some days the water is +20-24˚C.
 The natural factors limiting or hampering the development of recreation in the region are besides the rough temperature-wind conditions, the danger of being infected with tick encephalitis and low stability of landscapes to recreation loading. The development of recreation is complicated by broad development of landslides, screes or avalanches in the mountains.


The territory of the Tunka national park possesses the highest potential because of the sanatorium-resort treatment institutions and opportunities for the development of natural-informative, botanical, scientific and sport tourism.
The districts which possess high general potential are the Barguzin district (maximum one for the stationary recreation, cultural, ornithological and botanical scientific tourism; high potential for natrual-informative, cultural and sport tourism), the Pribaikalsky district (high for sanatorium-resort treatment, stationary recreation, ornithological and botanical scientific tourism), the Selenginsky district (maximum for ornithological scientific and sport tourism, high for cultural, commercial and stationary recreation) and Ulan Ude (maximum for cultural and commercial tourism, high for sport tourism and stationary recreation).
 3 districts possess medium potential: the Severobaikalsky, the Ivolginsk and the Kurumkan districts, their common feature is maximum or high potential for organizing some kinds of tourism. In the Severobaikalsky district it is natural-informative, botanical scientific and hunting tourism, in the Ivolginsk district it is archaeological scientific and religious tourism, in the Kurumkan district it is natural-informative and botanical scientific tourism. The potential is mostly low or medium for other types of recreation.
 Other 11 districts of the republic possess the potential which is estimated as low. In the Dzhida and the Kyakhta districts there is maximum or high potential for organizing some kinds of tourism, whereas other districts’ potential for organizing tourism is estimated as low or medium.
 The present-day state of the Republic of Buryatia recreation potential utilization is characterized as unstable and even critical especially of entrance foreign tourism. The share of the Republic of Buryatia recreation institutions (by the number of places) is only 1% compared with the average Russia figures. The average annual utilization of the material base of tourism and recreation is 30% of the potential.


There are widely known resorts Arshan (of federal significance), Goryachinsk, Baikalsky bor (of republican significance) of the trade union system, 8 sanatoria of the Health Care Ministry system, 12 trade union sanatoria of protective character. Besides, by many mineral springs there are small boarding houses and rest homes of different enterprises, organizations and municipal formations of the Republic and the Irkutsk region. As a rule they have not more than 10-15 places. Very often the mineral springs are used by local people spontaneously, without any medical treatment and the so-called “wild” (unorganized) resorts appear by them.


The ratio between the entrance and the departure tourism is reflected in the proportion – 55/45. The export of money prevails over the import.
In the tourist stream commercial and informative tourism prevail.
Unorganized tourism is very developed on the territory of Buryatia owing to people arriving from other regions of Russia. The process is accompanied by uncontrolled anthropogenous loading on the districts most prospective for the development of tourism. Such form of tourism is not the source of profit for the district budgets.
National parks, nature reserves and game reserves are most profitable.
The state policy activization, the sphere of tourism reformation with due regard for the world experience, market mechanisms usage and the favourable regimen creation can change the situation within a short period and make conditions for the formation of tourism as a highly profitable economic branch. It will allow to use economic functions of tourism generating the development of a number of industries, branches of agriculture, finance, transport, communication, trade, culture and social sphere.
There are the following prerequisites distinguished for the active development of tourism:
- favourable transport-geographic position of the Republic which lets Buryatia be considered the eastern gate of Russia for the links with the countries of South-Eastern Asia, China and Mongolia;
- diversity and richness of the cultural-historical heritage which is of interest as a historic tourist display object;
- the rich natural-recreation potential;
- sufficient people resources which provide the opportunity of the branch staff basis formation. According to sociological research data 60% of the tourism prospective districts population display stable interest and wish to work in the sphere of tourism, 45% agree to pay host to the tourists at home which is the sufficient prerequisite of the ecological tourism development.
In the rating of the Russian regions most interesting for foreign tourists, the Baikal takes the 4th place.  

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