Russian and South Ossetian parliamentarians discussed the development of tourism in South Ossetia

Sun, 15/10/2023 - 21:13

At the joint meeting of the Cooperation Commission of the Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the issue of developing the tourism industry in South Ossetia was also raised.

Co-chairman of the Commission, Chairman of the RSO Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy and Inter-Parliamentary Relations Zaza Driaev has noted that at the last meeting of the Commission in Moscow this issue was also raised and then they decided to continue discussing the issue of developing the tourism industry.

Vice-Speaker, Chairman of the RSO Parliamentary Committee on Social Policy and Health, Alexander Pliev, dwelled on this issue in detail, noting that the very location of South Ossetia, the unique climate and the abundance of mineral springs implies a priority for the development of tourism.

“At the last meeting, Valentina Matvienko also stated that we must pay great attention to this industry, working closely with the regions of Russia and develop tourism. South Ossetia is developing a tourism development program, and I think that in the near future the government will provide its vision, as well as plans for the development of the tourism industry in the Republic. A representative of the Ministry of Economic Development, who is responsible for the tourism industry, is present in our commission’s work, and I would like to give him the floor,” Pliev said.

According to Deputy Minister of Economic Development Albert Tekhov, a tourism development program is being developed in the Republic; the Ministry of Economy has identified more than ten areas in it.

“It is not easy to talk about tourism in the republic today, but it is extremely necessary. We have a unique tourism resource base, which allows us to conclude that the territory of the republic today retains enormous tourism potential, the demand for which will steadily increase in the coming years. In order for tourism to become a key sector of the economy, an appropriate foundation is needed, but to create it we need an understanding of how we imagine the South Ossetian tourism product. However, creating such a foundation is a very difficult task.

We have developed 11 main directions for the development of tourism: extreme, cultural and historical, children’s, scientific, ethnic, agrotourism, ski, event, medical, hunting and fishing, business,” Tekhov has noted.

He has added that there is a vision and prospects for the development of tourism in the Republic, but the work in this direction began relatively recently.

“There are certain plans for next year; we are developing a development program for the sector for 2024. The work is also underway to improve the law on tourism activities, and an information and tourism portal of the Republic is being created. I hope that we will have concrete results,” said Deputy Minister of Economic Development.

Alexander Pliev, for his part, drew attention to the problems faced by tourists who want to visit South Ossetia. He has also cited some statistics that clearly show that the interest in the Caucasus and South Ossetia is growing every year.

“According to official data, in 2018, only 50 people visited the Republic for tourism purposes, but last year this figure was already five thousand. However, this year there has been a decline, which was expected, because there are certain problems when crossing the Russian-South Ossetian border in the area of the Lower Zaramag checkpoint. Nobody wants to wait four, five hours at the border for passage. But we know that the issue is being resolved, and by 2026 the capacity of the checkpoint will be increased, and large financial resources have been allocated for this. We hope that after that, such problems will no longer arise,” the parliamentarian said.

Senator of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Olga Kovitidi has noted that if the Republic does not have the necessary financial resources for the development of the tourism industry, then it is necessary to apply the principle of public-private partnership in this matter and try to attract investors.

“We need to find people who are ready to invest in the Republic, apply the principle of public-private partnership, create a system of preferences, and in return get jobs and a high-quality, comfortable place to relax. It is necessary to create a system of economic preferences so that an investor will come to you and invest in tourism, and he must have legal and regulatory guarantees. By the next meeting, tell us the names of one or two people who can and will build and create something similar. Let it be ethno tourism, mountain tourism, but the main thing is that people want to come, for this you need to create a service. You have a big trump card, you are close to Russia," Olga Kovitidi said.

Co-chairman of the Russian part of the commission, Sergei Tsekov, has noted that some investors may have concerns about the political settlement of the Republic’s status.

“But we must prove step by step that South Ossetia is a sovereign state. Forever. The Republic will not have any changes in this status, and no one will encroach on it. The most important thing is safety for the investor. Think about how to make money. This is something we need to work on substantively and systematically, and work on constantly,” the senator has concluded.

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