China to invest $11bn in Russia's Lake Baikal tourism

© Ilya Naymushin
Russian tour operator Grand Baikal has made a deal with Chinese investors to create a "world-class tourism cluster" in Siberia on the shores of the world's deepest lake.

A pool of Chinese firms headed by Chungjingxin will invest $11 billion in the project that will include traveler attractions, transport and logistics infrastructure.

A memorandum of cooperation, backed by the governor of Siberia's Irkutsk region Sergei Levchenko, was signed last week.
A feasibility study is underway before the final agreement.

“We are planning to build not only up-to-date tourist attractions, but to create an accompanying transport and far-reaching logistic infrastructure around Lake Baikal to attract a significant number of tourists to the region,” Grand Baikal said.

According to the company, an important condition for the project is observing basic ecological standards and environmental laws to protect one of the world's natural wonders.

The new tourist hub is expected to be built on the site of a former paper mill in the town of Zabaykalsk. The mill was shut down three years ago, and was the lake's biggest source of pollution.

The initiative may jump start social and economic development of the region, according to the statement.