New entry regulations for Franz Josef Land? | Polarjournal
Cape Tegetthoff is the landmark of Franz Josef Land. The island was discovered officially on August 30, 1873 as the first island of the archipelago by the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition led by Julius Payer and Carl Weyprecht. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

At the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arcticconference just before the turn of the year, tourism came up among many chapters. A crucial factor is the support for local tour operators and ship operators to create incentives to invest in the tourism business with a subsidised interest rate.

On August 29, 1929, the Soviet Union opened the polar station “Buchta Tichaja”, the first research station on Franz-Josef-Land. At times it had a crew strength of up to 50. On 27 July 1931, Hugo Eckener’s airship LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin came into contact with the Soviet icebreaker Malygin in the Bay of Tikhaya. In the same year, in preparation for the Second International Polar Year 1932/33, a magnetic observatory was established, whose first director was Ivan Papanin. Since the closure of the polar station in 1959, the island is no longer permanently inhabited. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

The agenda also included promoting the development of cruise tourism in the waters of the Franz Josef Land archipelago.

According to Alexander Krutikov, Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, the ministry, together with leading tour operators, has analyzed the prospects for increasing the flow of tourists to Franz Josef Land.

In recent years, Franz-Josef-Land has been called at only by the Poseidon Expeditions shipping company’s “Sea Spirit” from Spitsbergen. According to Alexander Krutikov, only 290 tourists arrived to Franz Josef Land in three ship calls in 2019. After the COVID-19 restrictions end, an increase to ten vessel trips could increase the number of visitors to one thousand.

The issues of increasing the number of trips, equipping the infrastructure at the border point on Alexandra Land for entry into Franz Josef Land and creating the corresponding infrastructure in Arkhangelsk were also considered.

Concretions up to three meters in size, often in perfect spherical form, are found on Champ Island. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

Yuri Trutnev, the Deputy Prime Minister and head of the discussion, had instructed the Russian Ministry of Transport and Rostourism to work out ways to create stimulating conditions for the development of Arctic tourism within the framework of the national project “Tourism and Hospitality”. “The fact that we only use foreign ships is not a good choice. If we want to develop Arctic tourism, we should probably provide preferential conditions for Russian companies. For example, to encourage the purchase of ships and investment in tourism infrastructure, money with subsidized interest rates would be a possibility,” the deputy prime minister said.

Walruses on Stoliczka Island. In addition to walrus colonies, one regularly encounters polar bears. On Franz-Josef-Land 41 bird species have been observed, 14 of which also breed here. The flora is very sparse so close to the North Pole. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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