The destiny of the Sheregesh ski resort, located in the Kemerovo region in southern Siberia has caught the eye of Russia’s governmental circles. At the beginning of the year, Vladimir Putin instructed the government to work out a development plan for Kuzbass, including Sheregesh, by the end of March.
According to the decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, more than 3 bln rubles ($38.91 mln) would be allocated from the federal budget for the development of the Sheregesh ski resort through to 2024.
On Skis and Snowboards
To a great extent, this special attention was caused by the Russians’ roaring demand for tours to Sheregesh this winter. Already in mid-December, all the hotel rooms were booked up for the New Year and Christmas public holidays. As well as flights. Moreover, there were additional flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg, and all of the tickets for them were sold out.
After January 10, travel agencies sold out even package tours to Sheregesh like hot cakes. The cost of a week trip for one person started from 15,000 rubles ($194.55.) The tour package included round-trip tickets with free transportation of ski equipment and luggage of up to 23 kg per passenger, transfers, accommodation, and meals.
It comes as no surprise that in the rating of popular winter resorts, Sheregesh takes second place after the Rosa Khutor near Sochi among the Russians.
A total of 80 hotels and 26 ski trails 56 km long are available for booking in Sheregesh. At the beginning of March, the inflow of tourists amounted to 1.5 mln people. Not only skiing fans but also snowboarders visited the resort. They came in families, couples and alone.
Demand for hotels and services in Sheregesh trebled this winter, says Sergey Tsivilyov, the governor of the Kemerovo region, on his Instagram account.
Active demand for Sheregesh services has made it possible to resurrect plans to facilitate air travel to the resort.
Now, planes land in Novokuznetsk, and then passengers go from the city to the ski resort. The project of building an airport near Sheregesh, designed by the Novaport company, has emerged has re-emerged from cold storage. Earlier, the Kemerovo region government declared the project to be unprofitable. There are also plans to build a railway to the resort.
The regional Ministry of Tourism has reported that by 2035, the development strategy for Sheregesh envisages year-round operation of the ski resort and the increase in tourist traffic to 3.4 mln people per season.
Road network is also kept in mind. The plan suggests that four new roads worth 763 mln rubles ($9.9 mln) in total will appear in Sheregesh.
"To become a world-class resort and to be competitive on this market, the length of the ski tracks will have to be more than 100 km by 2030. There will be a net of roads and modern rope tow elevators. As at any global resort, a tourist will come to point A, follow all the tracks according to the route and return to where they left the car," Sergey Alexeyev, the Deputy Governor of the Kemerovo region, said at a briefing in Sheregesh on March 17.
An all-weather high-speed chair lift, which was to come into operation this year, would become another tourist attraction, said Anton Pyatovsky, the Minister of Tourism and Youth Policy of the Kemerovo region.
Six-seat chair lift was designed by Doppelmayr, an Austrian-Swiss company specializing in the production of ropeways and equipment for them.
The new chairlift will be able to transport about 2,400 people per hour. Freezing weather and wind speed of up to 20 m/s will be no obstacle for its operation.
The Cascade group of companies, which serves up to 70% of tourists in Sheregesh, will do all the work related to the installation of the high-speed ski-lift equipment.
International Business to Come to Sheregesh
Two international hotel chains, Azimut Hotels and Cosmos Hotel Group, will open their hotels at the ski resort.
In particular, in the B sector of Sheregesh, Azimut Hotels will put into operation four 3, 4 and 5 star hotels with 150 rooms each by 2026. There will be also a congress-center, ski pistes and other facilities. New buildings will occupy 118 ha. The estimated cost of the project is 6 bln rubles ($77.82 mln.)
Cosmos Hotel Group will occupy the E sector. According to preliminary data, by 2023, there will be Cosmos Sheregesh, a four-star hotel complex with 250 rooms, a sauna complex, cableways, and much more.
Prices as Stumbling Block
In the meantime, while looking at the flurry of this activity from the outside, Kemerovo region residents already feel being outsiders. They do not like the idea of tourists coming from Moscow and other Russian regions in numbers. As a result of it, prices for all services have risen noticeably in Sheregesh. Paradoxically, locals cannot use the resort as it is too expensive.
They actively show their dissatisfaction in social networks, including Instagram account of the regional Governor.
"For ordinary residents, Sheregesh is inaccessible because of, well, sky-rocketing prices for accommodation and food," a local says on the Instagram account of Sergey Tsivilyov.
"Did you know that the majority of Kuzbass (Kemerovo region’s widely used other name) residents simply cannot afford to visit Sheregesh? Prices and unemployment in the region are extremely high. What's there for us?" asks another follower on Kuzbass Governor's Instagram account.
"What happened to the skiing prices? It is nonsense. Exorbitant prices in Sochi have been no surprise for a long time, but why are they so high here? Did the managers from Sochi set them?" a local resident says indignantly.
However, there are many suggestions on how to create special conditions for Kuzbass residents with special pricing, so that prices will be affordable and the quality of service will be high.
Angry residents do not care about the effect the development of Sheregesh has on the economy in Kuzbass. Especially since they do not feel it on themselves. On the contrary, they see only their own losses from this kind of development of the resort.