Russian Arctic town explores new way to North Pole

A church on the bank of the Khatanga River in Russia’s northern settlement of Khatanga, April 15, 2010. (Ilya Naymushin /Reuters)
Local authorities in Khatanga, northern Russia aims for the development of a tourism route to the top of the world.

Municipal Mayor Yevgeny Vershinin confirms that preparations are underway and that the first test tours can be made in 2020.

The plan is to make Khatanga a transit hub for travelers to the North Pole.

“Considering the complicated logistics, this issue is difficult, but pretty promising,” Vershinin says in a comment published on the local government website.

“Khatanga will become a transit point where we will do the preparations and then bring people to the North Pole,” he explains.

The small town is situated at 71 degrees North and is one of the northernmost settlements in Russia. It has a population of about 2,600.

Local mayor Vershinin is confident that it will be a success and that the capacity will be between 300-500 tourists per season.

“The period of visit is small – only 1,5-2 months, but I am confident that this destination will become very popular.”

According to Vershinin, the new tourism initiative is developed on the request of regional Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Uss.

Most suited site for Arctic expeditions

It is not the first time that regional authorities announce great plans for development of Arctic tourism. In 2016, the region’s deputy cultural minister announced that the settlement in the future could replace Longyearbyen, the Norwegian town on Svalbard, as preferred pitstop on the way to the North Pole.

Khatanga is believed to be one of the most suited sites on the Russian mainland for Arctic expeditions. It has previously been used as transit point for North Pole tours. For several years, helicopters made pit stops in the far northern town on their way from Krasnoyarsk to the North Pole. The helicopters were crucial in finding suitable ice floes for the drifting Barneo ice camps.

Khatanga has one of the biggest airports in the Russian Arctic. The runway can handle medium-range aircrafts type Tu-154 and heavy transport planes of the type Il-76.

The local runway reportedly got a facelift in 2008-2009. The other parts of the airport is ramshackle. The terminal building was built in 1954, then as a temporary facility, and can hardly any longer be used by passengers.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Indigenous Cultural Tourism: How the North is learning from community success in southern Canada, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Arctic tourism in the age of Instagram, Eye on the Arctic special report

Finland: How tourism is bringing new life to a Sami community in Arctic Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Blog – Greenland pioneers Arctic tourism & mining, Cryopolitics

Norway: Tourism on the rise in waters around Svalbard, Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Singapore developers want to build floating city for Arctic tourism, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Growing number of Swedes choose train travel over flying to reduce pollution, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s cruise industry just keeps getting bigger, Alaska Dispatch News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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