To date, tourism is considered as a strategic direction of social and economic development of Republic Buryatia. The unique culture of Buryatia, variety of riches in nature, lakes and rivers, beautiful untouched nature, virgin taiga ‑ these are just few that will stimulate the development of tourism. The Republic of Buryatia, particularly the area around Lake Baikal, which is a site of the world natural heritage of UNESCO and 60 % of its coast line located in the territory of Buryatia, has a great potential for tourism development. For people of Buryatia Lake Baikal is a matter of love and doration and a great concern as well. They call it “A Sacred Sea”. The 45,6 % of republic’s territory concerns to areas of high recreational potential. Visitors of the republic can visit the famous reserves and national parks located in its territory. The republic is rich in a variety of hot mineral and thermal springs. They provide healing effect due to the presence of different minerals including phtorum, hydrocarbonates, silicon acid and radon. Buryatia is a mountainous land; the highest is Munku Sardyk which is the highest in Eastern Siberia ‑ 3491 meters high. All religions of the world are represented in Buryatia ‑ some of them have been an impact on each other, or got branches, here peacefully coexist Buddhism, Samanism and Orthodoxy. The culture of Old Believers of Transbaikalye is recognized by the UNESCO as the Masterpiece of oral and non-material heritage of the mankind. In the cities of Ulan-Ude and Kyakhta monuments of century trade and economic relations with China and Mongolia are kept.
Tourism in Buryatiya: sources, realities and prospects
The development of tourism in Buryatia has started at the end of 20s and at the beginning of 30-s years of the last century. In March, 1937 non-precedent ski-walking tour “Ulan-Ude ‑ Moscow” six thousand km long has finished. This legendary route has given powerful acceleration to tourism development in the republic as well as to other kinds of sports. Isai Altsman, one of the first the USSR Masters of Sports on tourism, has developed the first tourist routes and has become the instructor of many well-known persons in the republic. After II World War in republic much has been done for the further development of tourism. Due to the legendary I. Altsman, the swimming and skiing station have been built. In 1961, in the village of Maximikha the first children’s tourist camp, nowadays it is called “Yunost” has been opened. In 2006 the All-Russia children’s youth competitions for tourism have taken place. In order to develop mass tourism the republican council for tourism and excursions has been formed in 1965. At the end of 60-s and at the beginning of 70-s the first tourist camps have appeared on the lake Baikal and Shchuchye lake. Foundation of the republican council for tourism and excursions and the first tourist camps ‑ these are just few that stimulated the development of the organized tourism in Buryatia. In 1972, the Ulan-Ude Travel and Excursions Agency has been created. In 1973 tourist complex ‘Barguzin” has been put into operation. Sports amateur tourism actively developed in the republic. In 70th years, the whole network of the tourist clubs functioning at the enterprises, and tourist groups in educational establishments have been created in republic. In 1974 the republican federation of amateur tourism has been founded. Tourism has become really the mass phenomenon.
In 1979 over 700 thousand tourists visited Buryatia, in summer approximately about 3 000 tourists daily arrived to Buryatia. Later, due to the support of the Buryat regional council for tourism and excursions “The Great Tea Way” tourism has begun to develop. Today, it is one of the most perspective directions which attract international tourists. In 1976 a bureau for international youth tourism “Sputnik” has been created in the city of Ulan-Ude. At the end of 80s the capital of the Republic of Buryatia has become opened for foreign tourists. The first foreign tourists have visited Buryatia in 1989. They were diplomats ‑ officials of embassies and the consulates, accredited in Moscow. For example, in the beginning of 90s of the last century, the USA ambassador in Russia Mr. Metlok has visited Buryatia for the first time.
For the period of 2003-2007 the amount of tourists who visited Buryatia has increased for 38 %. According to reports of Buryat Statistics Committee 233,06 thousand of tourists have visited the republic in 2007, including 19 thousand foreigners. According to federal register, over 20 tour operators have been working in Buryatia in 2007-2008.
At the beginning of the third millennium tourism in Buryatiya is recognized as a priority direction of economy development. At the end of 2006 Buryatia has won the competition on creation of special economic zone of tourist recreational type. The creation of this economic zone in Buryatia, without any doubt, has given a powerful pulse to the development tourist industry in the republic.
Gradually, step by step, tourism in Buryatiya becomes one of the branches of its economy. The international ecological project called as “The large Baikal Track” continues to develop. Today, sports federations on sports tourism and mountaineering, extreme sports, rock-climbing, sports orientation successfully and actively operate in the republic.
Under the decision of RF Government from February, 3, 2007 under ¹ 68 special tourist recreational area “The Baikal harbour” in the territory of Pribaikalsk region of Buryatia is formed. It is planned as an all-seasonable resort meeting the world standards with developed. The total area makes 700 sq.km. “The Baikal harbour” is positioned as a tourist center in the east of Russia, as a key tourist direction and object of a transport boundary route “Vostochnoye Koltso” for the countries of Northeastern Asia. More over 1 million of tourists per year are expected to 2027, 20% of them will make foreign tourists.