One of the more bizarre travel stories of the past week was in the Daily Telegraph, which reported that Chechnya was to market itself as a ‘Swiss-style’ ski resort to attract Russian and foreign tourists.
As the Telegraph’s Moscow correspondent, Andrew Osborn, observed:
“If the plan succeeds, it will be one of the most radical makeovers in the history of global tourism. The southern Russian republic is better known for suicide bombings, kidnappings and two brutal wars than for après ski parties and designer ski wear.”
The President of the troubled region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said he thought the small mountainous republic had huge tourism potential. He and his advisers have earmarked a scenic area called the Argun Gorge for a large ski resort to include a luxury hotel, mid-priced chalets and a spa complex.
“We have a good climate and wonderful scenery,” said Mr Kadyrov. “We have places that, when equipped with the necessary infrastructure, will be in no way inferior to Swiss resorts.”
Russian tourism experts believe Chechnya does have potential, but say personal safety issues mean the bold plan is ahead of its time. That’s a view echoed by the Foreign Office in London. It advises against all travel to Chechnya, saying terrorism and kidnapping remain a serious threat.
by Andy Moreton