The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of the Government Executive Office Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, and Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov. Also invited to the meeting were Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov, Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Sports Oleg Matytsin, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Faizullin, Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuichenko, Kurgansk Region Governor Vadim Shumkov, Sverdlovsk Region Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev, First Deputy Transport Minister Andrei Kostyuk and Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Arkady Gostev.
The meeting focused on developing tourism. The agenda also included education, the situation in sports and organising international competitions, as well as preparations for the Games of the Future.
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Excerpts from the transcript of a meeting with Government members
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
As usual, before moving on to the main questions, let’s discuss some current issues – I think they are most urgent. I am referring, of course, to the wildfires in the Sverdlovsk and Kurgan regions, and overall, to anyplace this is happening.
Now I would like to hear Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov’s evaluations of the floods as well.
(Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev, Governor of the Kurgan Region Vadim Shumkov, Minister for Justice Konstantin Chuychenko and Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov presented reports on natural disaster relief.)
Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov: Mr President, colleagues.
The academic year is ending. We are approaching another finish line with good results. The goals and objectives you set, Mr President, are being achieved on time and in full, some even ahead of schedule, including the elimination of late-afternoon classes in schools. Overall, the Russian education system is developing and will develop further in line with our sovereign national goals. No sanctions or external pressure can interfere with this work and will only make us stronger.
One of the key success indicators specified in your Executive Order is reaching the top ten in the ranking of countries for general education quality. Allow me to remind you that in 2019, Russia was fourteenth. As of the end of 2022, our rating was 10.5. This rate is important for solving the biggest strategic task, which is to ensure that all Russian students have equal opportunities when it comes to quality education, regardless of their location.
Additionally, Russian students’ brilliant performance at international student competitions is a significant and objective indication of the quality of our education and students’ outstanding abilities. Year after year, our schoolkids show the best results. They won 43 out of 43 medals possible. I am saying this with gratitude to the competitors and their teachers. We try to acknowledge and encourage everybody, especially during this Year of Teachers and Mentors.
(The Minister went on to speak about summer health and recreation activities for children, year-end state testing and the National Final School Exam, the comprehensive plan of development for engineering education and the implementation of a unified model of career guidance.)
On May 4, on the eve of the most important holiday for all of us, Victory Day, all educational organisations in our country will host patriotic events. We will hold them in partnership with the Znanie Society, the Movement of the First, war veteran groups and other organisations.
Every school, college and teaching university will host ceremonies to raise the national flag and the Victory banner, as well as Conversations about Important Things, with lessons dedicated to the Great Patriotic War and Victory Day.
In addition, schools will hold Immortal Regiment events involving participants in the Great Patriotic War, home front workers, and veterans of hostilities, including the special military operation.
Together with Rosmolodyozh, we will implement a number of other projects and important symbolic events, such as the Parade at Veterans Homes, Songs of Victory, Garden of Memory, No Statute of Limitations and others. Their common, unifying goal is to preserve and protect historical memory and to instil in the younger generation a sense of pride in our people and our country.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: I will not talk about the importance of the topic we have just touched on – briefly, but nevertheless it remains the most important one. Lately, (in fact, this is always a key topic), we are talking more and more about Russia's sovereignty, about its strengthening as a key factor in the self-preservation of both our state and the country's territorial integrity. But the heart of this sovereignty, of course, is self-sufficiency in all key areas: in the economy, in defence. But the demand for this self-sufficiency and sovereignty is formed in education and culture, which are inextricably linked with the traditions of the people, with the history of our peoples, the peoples of Russia. But the most important factor is certainly education. I hope that here we will follow the path developed by the Government in contact with professional communities, including in the areas you just mentioned. Everything is interconnected, and the labour market should also be staffed in those areas that are key to economic development. Thank you.
Before we go on to discuss the main agenda, I have a question.
Mr Matytsin, our athletes participate and plan to participate in various international competitions. I am not going to talk about the actions that international sport functionaries are taking to this effect as they, unfortunately, neglect the principles of the Olympic movement. Let’s forget about them as they are only damaging the Olympic movement that must serve as a bond between peoples and countries, especially when there are conflicts. We will put this matter aside today.
What is the general situation in sports and with respect to organising international competitions?
Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin: Thank you very much.
Mr President, colleagues.
First of all, allow me to express my gratitude for the constant attention and support you have given to sports, especially at this difficult time.
In our opinion, sports has been and remain a very important aspect of stable social development. It is also instrumental in international dialogue and humanitarian cooperation. Therefore, we are not restricting any international contacts and working with those who are committed to developing sports without restrictions, discrimination or politisation.
As you noted, on March 28, 2023, the International Olympic Committee published conditions under which Russian athletes would be admitted to international competitions. Certainly, we believe that the declared criteria and parameters for returning Russians to the international sports arena are discriminatory and politically motivated; they violate athletes’ rights and the Olympic principles enshrined in the respective UN resolution and the Olympic Charter.
This being said, not all international federations directly follow the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee. Overall, international federations representing 12 Olympic sports and 13 non-Olympic sports have supported admission of Russian athletes to international competitions but as of today, nine have not issued clear admission criteria.
The President of the International Olympic Committee noted that the decision on Russian athletes’ participation in the 2024 Olympic Games will not be finalised until July 26, 2023. As per IOC recommendations on non-admission of Russian athletes to competitions in team sports, it is already definite that athletes practicing eight sports will not be able to compete in the Olympic Games. These include basketball, volleyball, football, handball and field hockey.
Moreover, there are additional risks concerning qualification rounds in unfriendly countries. In particular, our athletes may be denied visas or entry to these countries.
As I noted, 12 sports are admitted to international competitions and have the opportunity to qualify for the games. Athletes in another 18 sports are currently not permitted to participate, but there is still an opportunity to take part in competitions until 2024. In terms of sports, the selection will be based on the results; the sports include swimming, athletics and several others.
But, as I said, passing qualifications does not guarantee participation in the Olympic Games, as there will be requirements specially developed by the International Olympic Committee. If our athletes pass the qualifying tournament and the conditions do not change much, then the maximum number of Russian participants in the Olympic Games will be about 180 athletes.
In this situation, we believe it necessary to continue the dialogue with international organisations, considering, of course, the specifics of the federations and Russia’s partners, and, of course, to protect our interests with the assistance of friendly countries. In this context, the participation of Russian athletes under the auspices of the International Boxing Federation in competitions under our flag is an important example and, in the event of a victory, the national anthem will be played. The women’s championships were held in New Delhi in 2023, and now, literally right now, the men’s world boxing championship is taking place in Tashkent.
While several Western countries continue to put forward additional demands and form certain declarations as a condition for Russian athletes’ participation, we can see that most Asian, African, and Latin American countries support Russian athletes. For example, the fifth Bolivarian Games were held in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 21–29. Last May, President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro invited the Russian national team to participate under its own flag, and we competed there. And I am very glad that our athletes really felt a real atmosphere of friendship. As a result of our competitiveness, the team won 70 medals, 36 gold.
During my visit to Latin America, I met with the sports ministers of Cuba, Honduras, Bolivia and Venezuela. As a result of the meetings, cooperation agreements were signed. The countries of the region openly declared their support for Russia and are ready to hold joint competitions.
The African countries also oppose discrimination against Russians, which was reaffirmed during my visit to the continent, when memorandums of cooperation were also signed in the field of personnel training and sports exchanges. During the same period, the Association of 54 African Olympic Committees at its forum supported Russia almost unanimously in its right to participate in international competitions.
We are forming a sports coalition in the SCO. We are making a strong effort – with some resistance, I can honestly say – to create a working group and an association of sports organisations, under your instructions, in the SCO. I hope that we, together with our partners from India and China, will complete this work successfully.
In other words, of course, this is not about the international isolation of our country, and the international sports activities available to athletes are not reduced. Just this May, at the end of the month, the 9th Russian-Chinese Youth Games will be held in Chongqing, China. Russia will be represented by more than 250 athletes. The games will be held as part of the Russia-China sports cross year announced at your initiative, Mr President, along with the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.
A very important part of this is the interaction with Belarus within the Union State. In 2021 we hosted the first CIS Games in Kazan, and this year the games will be held in 11 cities in Belarus. We are planning a trip there with the strongest athletes, over 600 athletes will take part. The competitions will be held in August of this year, and the competitions have already become regular events; next year Baku will host the competitions.
After the postponement of the World University Summer Games in Yekaterinburg, you supported the idea of holding an International University Festival for BRICS, SCO and CIS countries. We are now preparing this sports university forum. All the sport facilities and Universiade villages are being opened on schedule. The festival programme will include about 14 sports and we are expecting over 20 countries to come. I hope that the competitions will be held in a good atmosphere of friendship.
Our country has hosted most of the biggest international tournaments in previous decades, most of them have been recognised as the best in history, and even during the sanctions we were able to hold international competitions in an open format.
These include, primarily, the Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, the Friendship Games in Kazan, and the Children of Asia Summer and Winter International Games in Vladivostok and Kemerovo. International tournaments in wrestling, table tennis, judo, rhythmic gymnastics and many other sports have been held.
I would like to make a special mention of the International Military Sports Council General Assembly and Congress, which ended this week and which was attended by representatives of 52 countries. The President of this organisation, a representative of Brazil, was elected. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the leadership of the Russian Army and the Central Sports Club of the Army for organizing such an event under these unprecedented conditions.
In addition to that, I would like to stress that participation in international competitions is not a separate goal for us: it is the top of the pyramid in the general sports system, which should still be based on the national system of competitions and training processes. Therefore, we believe that improving the Russian competition calendar is an important part of our work, as is the intensity of these activities to increase the competition level of Russian athletes, to train reserves, as well as to upgrade the federal and regional training bases for national teams.
We believe that the revival of national Spartakiads among the strongest athletes is a successful example of this work. Last year, a summer Spartakiad was held in 39 sports in 12 Russian regions, and the winter one is scheduled to take place in February 2024, with 11 sports. These events allowed us to assess our reserves, and strengthen cooperation with Russian sports federations and regions and support our athletes and coaches financially. Following the games, by the decision of the Government, prizes were established for the winners, the athletes as well as the coaches.
We plan to continue holding competitions in an open format, strengthening the sports sovereignty of Russia, and, of course, we see our main goal, as I said, in the creation of an up-to-date self-sufficient national system of fitness and sport, meaning the infrastructure for training personnel, methodological, medical support and an intense competitive calendar.
Today’s situation confirms the importance and the need to further promote the sports agenda within international associations such as the CIS, the SCO and BRICS, which are not subject to sanctions and restrictions from international sports organisations. We suggest encouraging the practice of holding competitions in an open format. In 2024, we propose holding the BRICS Games in Russia as part of the Russian chairmanship of BRICS, and we consider this to be especially relevant, given the prospect of expanding BRICS in terms of the number of countries.
Of course, we continue working to fulfil your instructions to organise the World Friendship Games in the autumn of 2024. We also consider it necessary to use all the necessary resources through public and state organisations, and the international community for the successful holding of the games, which, in our opinion, should be held regularly.
Please support our proposals.
Thank you. My report is finished.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
You and I know well that that the main problems of today’s high performance sport are related to its excessive commercialisation. Hence the corruption and political dependence.
But as the multipolarity of today’s world increases, the situation will also change in international sports, and it will change for the better. In any case, I really hope so.
Mr Chernyshenko, you told me and I know you have already started preparations for the Games of the Future, right?
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko: Yes.
Mr Matytsin said now that in the past few decades our country held all major international competitions, which were recognised as the best in history.
Owing to your support, a new international sports movement has been created recently. It has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It is not regulated by the existing international organisations. These are the Games of the Future. Recently, on April 29, you started the countdown – 300 days until the tournament begins.
As you emphasised, these games are at the junction of classic and cyber sports, and seek to promote mutual understanding and friendship between nations.
Active preparations for the games, scheduled for February 2024, are underway. We are organising sports and education events all over the country. We have held qualifying competitions in 11 out of 16 disciplines. Teams from 13 countries took part in them. The next qualifying competitions will take place on the sidelines of the Russia-Islamic World Forum in Kazan on May 18–19. It will be the digital football double event for eight teams, including players from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to visit the events of the Games of the Future.
The international community has become interested in this new sports movement. The Foreign Ministry is giving us comprehensive support in promoting the games abroad. As of today, 50 countries have confirmed their readiness to take part in our innovative tournament, and about 60 states are holding consultations on their participation in it. Russia is the first country in the world to register so-called functional digital sports as a new type of sports. We registered a National Federation in February to develop it. It was joined by 57 regions and another 33 regions established their regional federations. Recently, they held a meeting and elected our celebrated Olympic champion Nikita Nagorny the president of the Federation.
Mr President, together with State Duma deputies, we have developed a draft law on holding the Games of the Future. We will submit it this week. Please support it.
That’s the end of my report.
Vladimir Putin: All right. Thank you. That’s what we will do.
Thank you very much.
Let us now take up the main item on our agenda. We have two main speakers today on efforts to develop the tourism sector, Maxim Reshetnikov and Andrei Kostyuk.
Please, go ahead.
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: Mr President, colleagues,
I will start with describing the current situation in the sector. Last year, the number of tourist trips increased by four million despite the restrictions at the southern airports. Preliminary data for the first quarter also demonstrates a 20 percent increase in the number of hotel guests. This means that the sector keeps expanding at quite a robust pace. Meanwhile, the number of rated hotel rooms has also been growing. In 2022, there were almost 770,000 hotel rooms of this kind, up 10 percent compared to the previous year. In addition, some 20,000 hotel rooms received their ratings in the first quarter of this year. Let me remind you that this is attributable to the enacted regulations whereby hotels cannot provide their services unless they obtain a rating. It is for this reason that they have been coming out from the shadows and getting rated.
In the meantime, more hotel rooms are becoming available. Last year, we estimated that there were 11,000 new hotel rooms, which is almost double compared to the five-year annual average. The growing investment – up 14 percent in comparable prices – confirms this trend. Not only are businesses proactive on the investment front but are equally zealous in snapping up assets when foreign companies leave the market and building national hotel chains.
There are also complex projects underway like mountain skiing resorts. It is in keeping with your instructions that the first project to attract a strategic investor into this sector has been carried out. We sold the shares in the company managing the Arkhyz resort for 22 billion rubles and invested the proceeds in developing North Caucasus resorts. Northern Caucasus Resorts state corporation has been developing this resort and has now attracted a private investor. Of course, it is essential that the investor has undertaken to invest another 40 billion rubles in developing Arkhyz, which includes installing new chairlifts, building new hotels and tracks.
Preparations for the summer season are following their ordinary course. In this regard, our main task is to ensure that our tourists stay safe. We have been working with the regions and supervisory bodies to make sure that the infrastructure, including fire-fighting units and public health institutions, are ready. Federal agencies are keeping a close eye on this situation. For this, I must thank primarily our colleagues from the Emergencies Ministry and the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor). Chairlifts, cableways and tourist routes, public spaces, catering facilities and hotels – the regions and the corresponding agencies have all these sites under their control.
By June 1, regions are expected to round up the effort to prepare the beach infrastructure for the season. This may take a little longer. Our plan is to switch to a single system for assessing whether regions are ready for the season, as is the case for other sectors. We will have bi-annual assessments ahead of the summer and the winter seasons.
We are paying particular attention to affordability of vacation trips. This year, we expect the tourist traffic to grow by at least 5 percent, which is around 7 million people, including half that book hotel accommodation. Increased domestic demand amid a certain shortage of hotel rooms is a key factor affecting the price dynamic.
Another newly emerged factor are the consumer and behaviour models among tourists, which have started to change in the past two years. First of all, the geography of trips is changing as people are more frequently travelling within their own regions, to neighbouring regions, big cities, the Altai and the Caucasus.
(The minister went on to quote data on hotel bookings, accommodation prices and transport accessibility of resorts. He noted that transport costs account for about half of travel expenses and offered a detailed review on efforts by Russian Railways and airline companies to prepare for the tourist season.)
Along with preparing for the summer, we are addressing current and strategic tasks concerning the industry’s development and the national tourism project. We have provided more than 13 billion rubles to 64 regions for improving tourist itineraries, building camping sites, purchasing tourist equipment and supporting events. Both the amount of funding and the number of regions we supported are double the figures we had last year. <…>
One more important aspect. Recently, we received almost 4 billion rubles earned from selling foreign residents’ assets, from the Ministry of Economic Development. As you instructed, we will invest part of these funds, or 2.7 billion rubles, in Crimean tourist businesses to compensate for the low tourist traffic.
We are working on synchronising two national projects on tourism and small and medium-sized businesses because statistically, more than 40 percent of loans for SMEs in the tourism industry are taken out using support mechanisms of the Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. Last month, we launched another programme for granting preferential loans specifically to micro- and small businesses. Now tourist businesses can take out loans of up to 30 million rubles at just over 10 percent for three years without collateral. Businesses need these loans to upgrade small hotels, carry out minor renovation, purchase interior items, and so on.
Finally, I would like to raise one systemic issue. The main goal of the national project is to increase the number of trips and encourage more people to travel around the country. We have also noticed that short road trips, trips to neighbouring regions and big cities are becoming a trend. It seems important to develop the tourist infrastructure within the radius of accessibility. Year-round amusement parks and water parks can become attractions. We have facilities of this kind in the south. One is Sochi Park, created ahead of the Olympic Games. There is also the Dream Island in Moscow, another popular destination.
Of course, recreational facilities of this type should be located about five to six hours from home so that families with children could comfortably and safely drive there in one day and spend two or three days there.
Therefore, Mr President, we are drafting proposals to expand the national project. We need your support. We are working with businesses to prepare these proposals.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Mr Kostyuk, please.
First Deputy Minister of Transport Andrei Kostyuk: Thank you very much.
Mr President, colleagues.
The transport sector is ready for the 2023 tourist season. I will start with the aviation industry. In 2023, the passenger flow is expected to reach 101.2 million passengers, up from 95.2 million in 2022, which included 81.9 million people on domestic flights and 19.3 million people flying internationally. This means that we are expecting a 12 percent increase compared to 2022. As of April 23, our airline companies carried 25.9 million passengers, exceeding the annual plan for this period by 745,000.
The situation in the air travel sector has changed compared to the previous years. Restrictions for airports in Russia’s southern and central regions, as well as restrictions on international flights in 2022 freed up a substantial share of aircraft, enabling carriers to use them for serving domestic destinations. Sochi is a case in point. Last year, its airport served over 12.9 million passengers, up from 11.1. million in 2021. In 2023, we expect passenger traffic to remain at last year’s level. Sochi has retained its status as a major tourist destination, including for passengers travelling on international flights.
This year, the Russian air carriers have been increasingly active in restoring international flights. Today 15 airlines operate flights to 22 countries. Among other things, this has become possible thanks to the effort to remove aircraft from their registries – we currently have 186 such aircraft, as well as to purchase aircraft from foreign leasing companies.
We noted that people are very interested in travelling to Turkiye, with the number of flights up 50 percent compared to the summer of 2022. Over 720 flights per week will operate 62 routes. Turkish air carriers have also confirmed their applications for operating flights to and from Russia. As of today, the schedule includes 620 flights per week on 37 routes.
This year, airports in Izhevsk, Tobolsk and Norilsk will start serving international flights, laying the groundwork for more international travel in the years to come. In the meantime, we remain focused on domestic flights, of course. Russian airline companies will expand their destination network for the summer season of 2023.
For example, S7 Airlines will now operate flights connecting Irkutsk to Chita, and Novosibirsk to Vladikavkaz, while Red Wings will link Samara with Gorno-Altaisk. NordWind Airlines will operate flights between Kazan and Gorno-Altaisk and between Makhachkala and Omsk, and Aeroflot will have flights connecting Mineralnye Vody to Samara, Kazan, Perm, Yekaterinburg and Ufa. There will also be a flight from St Petersburg to Khabarovsk. <…>
There are 1,162 aircraft in the passenger fleet, which is comparable to the figures for April 2022. Therefore, we can say that the sector will be able to match or exceed the 2022 results in 2023, as long as the demand is there.
Turning to railways, the sector prepared a schedule for 2023 which covers 468 train pairs, including 142 serving southern destinations. Almost 15,000 train cars will be used to this effect. The Black Sea coast and Mineralnye Vody are the key destinations. Compared to 2022, the number of sold tickets increased by 29 percent to reach 13.5 million seats.
I would like to specifically report on the transport service to Crimea. This year, we plan to increase the offer to at least 3 million rail tickets from May to September, up 36 percent compared to the same period in 2022. The carrier, Grand Service Express, plans to increase the number of trains from 17 to 22 per day.
As to road transport, about 6,000 interregional routes are registered in the system of interregional routes of regular road transport, including more than 1,800 routes to points of attraction for tourists. In 2023, the Single Ticket service will continue to help transport passengers along 43 tourist multimodal routes combining air, rail and road transport. We are also working on the accessibility of tourist clusters for the residents of Russia’s new regions. At the moment, 50 routes have been established, including 16 with direct access to the Republic of Crimea and the Krasnodar Territory.
Next, water and sea transport: inland waterways are among the most popular types of travel. Last year, carriers operated 81 river boats, but with the increase in tourist flows, compared to last year, this number will increase to 95 this year. These are motorboats carrying 90 to 330 passengers. More than half of the vessels have been renovated to improve comfort. A new boat, Zolotoye Koltso, has been built and put into operation. Five more new cruise ships are under construction, and the cruise infrastructure is developing in many regions. The demand for river travel is growing. High-speed sea lines such as Kometa (Yalta – Sevastopol) and Griffin (Sochi – Gelendzhik), which began operation in the Black Sea on May 1, will definitely enjoy demand. River transport carried 45,000 passengers during the summer season in 2022, and this year, we plan to increase this volume by 20 percent. The new cruise liner Prince Vladimir will begin travelling from Sochi to the Republic of Crimea in June.
A few words about roads. Thanks to the Safe and High-Quality Roads national project, from 2019 to 2022, we have brought more than 6,000 kilometres of tourist routes up to standard, and this year, we plan to improve 222 road sections, about 1,000 kilometres in length.
In June 2023, we will complete the construction of two bypass roads, the Aksai Bypass and the Far Western Bypass of Krasnodar running towards the Black Sea coast.
Thank you for your attention, Mr President. This concludes my report.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
I am sure that your plans will work out. These are good plans – both for this season and for the development of domestic tourism in general. It is very important for the economy as well as for the social sphere.
We have another subitem on promoting ecotourism.
Please, Mr Kozlov.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,
The law that will regulate tourism, its criteria and specifics in the specially protected natural areas will come into force on September 1. We have drafted 13 governmental acts to go with it and will approve them by August. You mentioned this law, Mr President, in your Address to the Federal Assembly.
First, the law will make it possible to streamline the construction of tourist infrastructure; the procedure will become transparent. Second, it will protect national parks and nature reserves from excessive human impact on unique natural systems.
Let me remind you that only six million hectares out of the total of 75 million that constitute the general protected territory can be accessed by tourists and used for recreation. Since the start of this year, over 2.3 million tourists have visited national parks, up 1.5-fold compared to the same period last year when this figure was equal to 1.4 million.
This year, we have set ourselves two main tasks in the tourist sphere: first, to create a hospitality infrastructure; second, to expand the range of tourist services.
(Alexander Kozlov also spoke about the infrastructure facilities that would be built or upgraded, the implementation of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry national project, as well as the development of children’s tourism and cruise tourism.)
I would like to conclude my report by saying a couple of words about certain denizens of our protected territories. We have started counting the wisents. According to the initial data, there are over one thousand species in the Orel, Kaluga and Bryansk regions. Let me remind you that earlier there were only 850 species in the entire country, but now we have one thousand in just three regions. There are 864 polar bears inhabiting the Wrangel Island. The predators have not been counted for quite long, and in this census we used an Orlan UAV, apart from the traditional methods. Let me note that drones are of great help in monitoring the animals and the situation as a whole, including in spotting forest fires. We have submitted a request to the Ministry of Industry and Trade for almost 500 drones to be used by 78 institutions before 2030 as part of the Unmanned Aerial Systems national project. You held a meeting on this issue recently.
We are also preparing to release two other Persian leopards named Chilmas and Achipse into the wild. They have been raised at our Centre for Breeding and Reintroduction of Persian Leopards in Sochi. We are planning to release them this coming summer, and we are now expecting the Russian Academy of Sciences to submit its findings. I would like to point out that nine of our leopards already roam pristine areas in the Caucasus.
Every winter, all local nature reserves, game reserves and national parks count their animal populations. These counts show that almost all of them remain stable, including squirrels, hares, lynxes and bears. Animal populations tend to increase in some cases. For example, the number of foxes has tripled in Kronotsky Nature Reserve for the first time in 10 years, from 700 to almost 2,500 animals. The same is true of rare species. The population of Przewalski’s horses has increased from 36 to 85. There used to be 6,000 Saiga antelopes, and their number has now reached 15,000.
We are also getting ready to publish the Red Data Book on Plants, which has not been updated since 2005. Its new edition will not list 102 species because their populations have been restored. However, we will include 165 plants for the first time. Consequently, 739 plant species will be protected by the state.
Thank you. That concludes my report.
(Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko then took the floor and noted that, if necessary, the Government is ready to take additional action, including under the Tourism and the Hospitality Industry national project. He also mentioned car tourism, the establishment of year-round seaside resorts for accommodating at least 10 million tourists annually, including the New Anapa resort. Chernyshenko mentioned some other major projects, including the Caspian Coastal Cluster in Daghestan, projects in the Baltic region, the Primorye Territory, Crimea and the new regions, specifically on the Sea of Azov coast. It will be necessary to adopt various decisions on some matters, and these decisions can only be made at the presidential level, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised. He suggested holding a meeting that would involve representatives of the business community and various regions where these projects are to be implemented, which would expedite the development of these ambitious high-priority projects.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, we have discussed issues that require a prompt response. I am primarily referring to the wildfires, a major problem affecting several regions. It is essential to provide the necessary assistance to the people. I assume that the main decisions have been made, and we just need to calculate the final amounts. We have sources of funding to respond to such situations. But this needs to be done quickly and, as I have already said, with the utmost attention to people and their needs, and debureaucratising the system as much as possible. We need to consider each specific situation, each family, each affected person who requires our attention and support.
I hope that this will be done. I will ask the heads of the regions and the Emergencies Minister to report to me on the progress in the near future, and the Government, on the allocation of appropriate funding to achieve the goals that we have just set.
As for the tourism industry, I would like to repeat once again: it is extremely important both from the social and economic point of view. The Government has been working very effectively in the past two years. We can see that domestic tourism is growing at a good pace, and even accelerating. This is great, and it is very good that our citizens prefer to spend their money inside the Russian Federation – this helps us to take further steps to develop this industry and to make it more attractive.
I will not list all the tasks that we have here. There are a lot of them, but they are all quite interesting and quite rewarding, because the return on your efforts is fast and tangible, and this is great.
I support the proposals Mr Chernyshenko has made regarding the meetings we will need to hold; indeed, it will be necessary to talk with the heads of the regions where the respective projects are planned. We will need to take into account their concerns, and Mr Chernyshenko probably knows about this; I am referring to the New Anapa project, for example. I like this project, I think it is good, and we need to support it. But it is also important to remove the regional government’s concerns – they need to be assured that the project will involve building tourist facilities, not some residential complexes without any social infrastructure. This can be done, and housing can and should be built as well. We just need to make a decision on what should be built and in what quantity. This must be done in a timely manner, at the first stages. But in general, I consider projects of this kind to be very promising and important.
Thank you all very much. Best regards. Now we will prepare for Victory Day, our major holiday that comes to every family in our large country.
Best regards. Thank you.