"The winter tourist season has begun in the region. In 2018, the tourist flow equalled 438 thousand people, with 64 thousand foreign tourists. For 2019, we forecast more than 450 thousand tourists, of which 67 thousand will be foreigners. Accommodation facilities are ready, and there is enough space for everyone", Filippov said.
According to him, since 2015, tourists from Asian countries have been the majority in the tourist flow structure, with Chinese tourists showing the most substantial growth – by almost 40% compared to 2018. The number of tourists from neighbouring Norway and Sweden has also increased, as has the number of visitors from Malaysia.
"In absolute terms, these are not very high figures yet; but Chinese tourists started from 167 people a year, and today we have more than 16 thousand", Filippov noted.
Statistically, the most popular type of winter tourism in the Murmansk region is skiing. Ten complexes with slopes of various difficulty levels are ready to receive downhill skiing fans. At the same time, Kirovsk in the Khibiny Mountains remains a major attraction; it receives about 70 thousand tourists, with the ski season lasting up to 190 days depending on snow conditions.
Here, at the foot of the Khibiny Mountains, the "Snow Village" will open on 21 December; and on 22 December, Kovdor will welcome tourists to celebrate the Hyperborean New Year. Next year, from 20 to 26 January, a festival of snow and ice sculptures will be held in Kirovsk. "Northern Lights" tours with accommodation in domed houses with panoramic windows providing views of the natural phenomenon are also very popular with tourists.
Guests of the polar region can visit the villages of Teriberka and Lovozero, and go to the Lapland Nature Reserve. As for tourism development in the region, industry experts consider industrial and pilgrimage-based tourism promising. Tour operators also rely on the development of Arctic cuisine for tourism purposes: the Kola Peninsula is ready to treat its visitors to venison with cranberry sauce, traditional local fish and cloudberry jam.