Resort fees in the North Caucasus
The tourism sphere is the key driver of development of the economy and attracting investments to the North Caucasus, according to the Ministry for North Caucasus Affairs. One of the main projects in the investment and tourism portfolio of the NCFD is the secured ecological and resort region of the Caucasian Spas. Along with preservation of the healing potential of the Caucasian Spas, there is the urgent problem of the development of the region as a modern recreational zone which meets international standards.
“In this context, a project of development of the medical cluster is being developed on the basis of the state and private partnership. It will include development of the resort base and the healthcare system, as well as the whole sector of modern high-tech help for residents of the NCFD,” Lev Kuznetsov, Russian Minister for North Caucasus Affairs, said.
Speaking about the development of the Kislovodsk Health Resort and Park, the minister stressed that in 2016 the park would be the biggest in Europe due to the creation of a special secured environmental territory of federal importance in the form of a national park.
Meanwhile, recently the Ministry for North Caucasus Affairs suggested a fee for using the mineral waters and healing springs in the resorts of Stavropol Territory. According to the Ministry, the resort fees “will compensate for the economic damage from the use of the infrastructure” of the resorts. However, experts believe that any additional financial load will frighten away tourists and the budget’s benefit will be quite doubtful.
Lev Kuznetsov doesn’t agree with the skeptics: “Resort fees are a worldwide practice. We're not travelling some unique path. The key objective, after all, is to make this instrument one of the sources, I stress, one of the key sources, for the development of our resort cities. Because today, the quality of infrastructure, the state of the architectural monuments, the further development of parks and other public places, are in need of serious investments. And we realize that, of course, given the fact that more than a million people come to these cities, the load is increased. Local sources, sources of the constituent parts, the federal budget, of course, cannot address these issues so quickly and comprehensively. And taking into account the fact that, after all, our key priority is to make the Caucasian Spas one of the health centers, one of the global resorts, then we will not be able to achieve this without solving these problems.”
Kuznetsov stresses that the resort fee will be strictly targeted: “This does not mean that it will get into the budget and be spent on various activities. It will be somewhat like a road fund, aimed at specific objectives. And the people who will pay it, at the same time, we plan to also provide certain privileges for older people, for people with low incomes, in order, through this instrument, to improve the quality of infrastructure for those who come to the Caucasian Mineral Waters, for those who live there. We see that today, unfortunately, overall, the incomes of the residents of the district, and of the Russian Federation as a whole, have negative dynamics. And for us it is very important to find a balance that would allow us to solve the assigned objectives, but at the same time would be acceptable and understandable for those who pay it.”