Activities of the Government of the Republic of Karelia in the sphere of tourism in 2013 were focused on creation of conditions for sustainable growth of organised tourist traffic and broadening of the spectrum of tourist services, as well as increasing the volume of investments in the Republic of Karelia and the share of tourism in gross regional product.
Within the structure of executive bodies of the Republic of Karelia in 2013 there has been established the State Committee of the Republic of Karelia for Tourism responsible for pursuance of the state policy in the sphere of tourism within the territory of the Republic of Karelia, as well as for performance of coordination of activities of other executive bodies of the Republic of Karelia in this sphere.
Implementation of measures of the long-term target program of Development of Tourism in the Republic of Karelia in 2012-2015 continued in 2013.
Within the scope of implementation of program actions regarding advertising and information advancement, the practice of active participation in the largest tourist exhibitions by the uniform stand of the republic on the considerable areas continued, providing an opportunity to a larger number of organisations in the sphere of hospitality of Karelia to come forward with their tourist offers (on the conditions of co-financing), and, at the same time, to present tourist potential of the republic in an integrated manner. In 2013 participation of the Republic of Karelia in 6 largest international tourist exhibitions in cities of Moscow, St.Petersburg, Helsinki was provided.
Besides, tourist potential of towns and regions of the republic was presented at the Hunting and Fishing exhibition in Petrozavodsk.
To take part in exhibition and trade fair activities information materials on the tourist prospects of the Republic of Karelia and travellers' Karelia logo merchandise were made.
The annual republican competition Leaders of Karelian Tourist Industry was held in 2013 among organizations and sole entrepreneurs performing tourist activities within the territory of the Republic of Karelia, and participation of the Republic of Karelia in international and national tourist awards and competitions was provided. The basic criteria for selection of winners of the Leaders of Karelian Tourist Industry '2013 competition were uniqueness of the offered tourist product, implementation of the circumspect price policy, strict observance of norms, standards and principles of conducting tourist activities, originality and, simultaneously, availability of the tourist offer.
An important sphere of implementation of the program was rendering organizational, methodological, and financial support in carrying out of significant actions of the republican tourist calendar focused on formation of a system of tourist brands of the republic.
Support was rendered in holding the most important traditional tourist events, such as the sled dog races Kalevala-2013 and On the Land of Sampo, The Ladoga Skerries international fish festival in Sortavala municipal region, The Kizhi Regatta festival of folk shipbuilding, The Olonets Grandfathers Frost festival, The Blue Onego Sea Festival. The interregional festival of rural tourism in the settlement of Novaya Vilga and Days of Solovki in Petrozavodsk have been organized and held for the first time. These activities have involved a considerable amount of foreign and Russian participants and spectators.
Development of tourist infrastructure within the territory of the republic has enabled increasing of the number of collective accommodation facilities up to 8500 with simultaneous amenities enrichment.
Park Inn by Radisson hotel for 362 guests (181 rooms) opened in Petrozavodsk, construction of the first phase of the hotel-tourist complex The Ladoga Manor in Sortavala municipal region for 42 guests (the complex is supposed to accommodate 102 guests total) and The Ladoga Fjord tourist camp for 50 guests near the town of Pitkäranta are completed.
Within this field work on approving the order of accreditation of organisations performing classification (including category assignment) of objects of tourist industry, including hotels and other means of accommodation in the republic nears completion.
More than 40 objects in the sphere of tourist infrastructure most of which are small hotels and guest houses of 'family' format are under construction or reconstruction. Within 2013 a group of guest houses in the village of Shuezero, Byelomorsk municipal region, a group of guest houses at Tulema tourist camp in Pryazha national municipal region, guest houses in the settlement of Lendery and village of Emelyanovka, Muezersky municipal region, tourist centre in the former settlement of Sondaly, Padany rural settlement, Medvezhegorsk municipal region, and a number of other objects were commissioned.
Activity on attraction of funds of the federal budget, private investors on the conditions of co-financing to participation in implementation of key investment projects of republican value is enhanced. For the purpose of preparation of the application for inclusion of the cluster investment project of the Republic of Karelia in the federal target program of Development of Domestic and Inbound Tourism in the Russian Federation (2011-2018) research work on working out of the Concept of creation of pilot tourist recreational cluster has been performed. Through creation of the cluster it is planned to increase annual tourist flow by 180 thousand people, capacity of means of accommodation - by 950 places, and to create up to 700 new jobs.
According to preliminary estimates, the volume of investments into building and reconstruction of objects for 2015-2018 may exceed 4,3 billion roubles. Total volume of financing, including budget financing, will make 6,3 billion roubles, including 1,6 billion roubles from the federal budget, 0,3 billion roubles from the funds of the budget of the Republic of Karelia.
The agreement on cooperation between the Federal Tourism Agency and the Government of the Republic of Karelia in the sphere of tourism was concluded in November, 2013.
Involvement of funds of the federal budget amounting to 1,5 million roubles to advance regional tourist product of the Republic of Karelia in the global and national tourist markets provided in cooperation with federal agencies of executive authority. The first International Kizhi Festival of Water Tourism — 2014 timed to coincide with the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Saviour of the Kizhi Ensemble (The Kizhi Regatta with a new status) will gain financial support at the federal level.
On the initiative of the Government of the Republic of Karelia the draft federal target program Preservation and Restoration of Spiritual, Cultural, and Natural Heritage and Development of the infrastructure of Solovetsky Archipelago in 2014—2019 includes two events within the territory of Kem municipal region with 516 million roubles of total financing.
International cooperation of the Republic of Karelia in the sphere of tourism has got further development.
In order to bring the level of tourist infrastructure up to the international standards reception of a delegation of French experts in tourism in the Republic of Karelia was organised. On results of the meeting, methodological recommendations on development of a number of key kinds of tourism for the Republic of Karelia were obtained.
11 international projects in the sphere of tourism are implemented within the scope of the Karelia European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument program of cross-border cooperation (Karelia ENPI CBC). During implementation of the project White Road — Development of cross-border tourism in Northern Finland and the Republic of Karelia there have been established 6 new information tourist centres in northern regions of the republic which primary goal is advancement of the tourist product of Karelian coast of the White Sea.
Perfection of the information support of tourists aimed to satisfy tourists' needs in variously structured information, achievement of international standards in information and organizational support of tourists's stay in the territory of the Republic of Karelia proceeded. Functioning of objects of direct informing of travellers in Karelia was provided technically and implemented in software, the network of information tourist centres and assortment of electronic services developed.
More than 100 articles on development of tourism in the Republic of Karelia was prepared and released to mass media, including in Russian and international printed periodicals, catalogues, at the Republic of Karelia's official Internet Portal, tourist portal of the Republic of Karelia and other internet resources, on TV for information advertising of the tourist prospects of the republic.
Within the scope of the Russia 10 competition held by Russia 1 TV-channel and the Russian Geographical Society the Kizhi Ensemble was recognized one of the top ten winners of the competition. As a matter of fact, Kizhi has become not only the main tourist brand and a trademark of the Republic of Karelia in tourism, and one of ten visual symbols of Russia.
Besides, on results of voting within the framework of the annual award in the sphere of tourism "Star of Travel.ru" which is Russia's longest-standing competition, the Republic of Karelia has won two awards as The Best Russian Destination (for winter vacation and activity holidays) having gained 53 and 46 percent of votes, accordingly.
Organization of the educational process in the sphere of tourism is aimed at perfection of the system of continuous tourist education and involvement of citizens of municipal formations in the Republic of Karelia in tourist activities. Therefore, the practice of organization of educational events in regions of the republic continued. In 2013 there have been held two seminars concerning organization of tourist activities for citizens living in regions of the republic. The emphasis in education was laid on introduction to fundamental principles of tourist business, exchange of experience wit entrepreneurs engaged in the sphere of tourism, explanation of the mechanisms of setting up own business, principles and rules of business planning.
Measures taken in the sphere of tourism have enabled formation of favourable tourist image of the Republic of Karelia, enhance its prospects for tourists and provide a basis for further growth of competitiveness of tourist industry of the republic in the context of escalated competition for tourist traffic.
In 2013 the number of organized tourists and excursionists has reached 595 thousand people and has for the first time exceeded the pre-crisis level level of 2008. The flow to main objects of tourist display has grown (Ruskeala marble mine park has received 44% visitors more than in 2012).
On results of independent researches and interrogations, Karelia is one of three Russian regions on tourist attractiveness, and is in the lead with regard to activity holidays and winter sports.