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11 Jul, 2007 10:15

Chechnya aspires one day to attract tourists

Chechnya's government has announced plans to give the republic a massive tourism boost. Local officials are considering a number of projects to attract holidaymakers.

Tourism officials say Chechnya will soon be a hotspot for travellers seeking adventure holidays.

A decade of brutal war may have devastated the republic and destroyed the little tourist infrastructure it had. But that has not deterred some ever-optimistic members of the travel industry from hoping that soon visitors will be flocking to the region for fun. 

“Everybody is saying: who is going to come? But I think we will have enough of our own tourists for a start – students of biological, historical and geological departments, also from the Oil Institute,” claims Tamara Khataeva from the Tourist Development Division.

No one is expecting tourists to arrive immediately.

At first, authorities want to return the refugees, who left mountains during the two wars and remove the border-guard check points from the near-by villages.

Strict security is a major obstacle for tourism in Chechnya, as it takes up to six months for a traveller to obtain access permits.

“Before 1993-94 we had tourists coming here. There were even governmental dachas here for state officials to come and spend vacations. We cannot speak with any certainty about the future of tourism before the borders are settled and we have frontier guards,” said Ramzan Teloev, head of regional administration.

The Argun Reserve is famous for its ancient landmarks – crypts, towers and medieval settlements. Watch towers have protected mountain residents for centuries. They were built so that one tower faces another – this basic military tactic warned warriors of danger.  

Natural beauties are also expected to draw tourists. Chechnya enjoys five climatic zones – deserts and 4,000-meter-high mountains covered with snow are within a short distance from each other. Half of Russia’s endangered species live exclusively in the area.    

Hostels destroyed by the war are soon to be re-built and new campsites set up.

Obviously, Chechnya has a long way to go before true peace and stability take hold. But there is progress, and that gives some hope that some brave tour operators may soon include Chechnya in their brochures.