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Bering Strait International Festival Wraps Up in Chukotka

The Bering Strait International Festival was held on 2-7 August in Chukotka as part of main event schedule of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council in 2021-2023. The festival programme featured the Arctic Travelers' Forum business section, the Beringian Games athletic competition and an expedition tour around the region. The festival also included events dedicated to the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, celebrated on 9 August. The Roscongress Foundation is the operator of the events of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council.

"The festival is important from the standpoint of sustainable tourism development in
the Arctic and the Far East. The very fact that we are holding such events in
Chukotka — one of the most unusual regions of Russia — and the interest
expressed by travel companies and residents of the Arctic regions, confirms the
high potential of the Russian North. Thanks to the development of air links and
tourist routes, these territories are becoming more accessible, the investment
appeal of the Arctic is growing, and the quality of life among local residents,
including indigenous peoples, is improving," says Gadzhimagomed Huseynov,
Russia's First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic.

'The Bering Strait International Festival gathered tourism enthusiasts in the easternmost region of our homeland. Ensuring sustainable socio-economic development of the Arctic areas and creating comfortable conditions for the locals remains our priority. The Bering Strait Festival contributes a lot to these efforts. It provides an introduction to the traditional culture of people living in the region, including indigenous peoples, and the unique nature of the Far North,' said Nikolay Korchunov, Chairman of the Senior Officials Committee of the Arctic Council and Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The business programme of the Bering Strait Festival addressed the issues of developing the tourism industry in the Russian North, as well as sustainable tourism development and infrastructure improvement. The central event was the "Tourism in the Arctic: advanced development" plenary session. Its participants, including heads of relevant organisations and representatives of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, discussed prospects for meeting the demand of Russian citizens for domestic tourism, the effect of preferential economic regimes in the Arctic, as well as the development of air traffic.

Also, as part of the festival's business programme, four discussions were held, covering other Arctic tourism development aspects. The experts discussed ethno-cultural, environmental and extreme tourism, issues of involving the locals in the hospitality industry, and the best practices in organizing Arctic travel.

'As the global climate changes, the polar ice is melting. The polar zone's value keeps increasing in strategic, economic, scientific, technical, environmental, transport, resource and other aspects. As Chair of the Arctic Council, Russia is making great efforts to promote the use of the North Sea Route, environmental protection and sustainability in the region. This festival is an important event as part of these efforts,' stated Chinese Consul General in Vladivostok Piao Yangfan.

As part of the festival, Beringian Games, a competition among the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, were held. Teams from nine subjects within the Russian Arctic zone took part in them. 33 participants competed in seven traditional Northern sports, including triple jumps, tug-of-war with a pole, and single-foot high kicks. The team event was won by representatives of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The second and third places were taken by athletes from the Chukotka Autonomous Area and the Krasnoyarsk Territory, respectively. The main purpose of the Games is to involve people living in the Russian Arctic zone in regular exercise and sports, popularise traditional sports of indigenous peoples, as well as strengthen ties between the Russian Arctic regions.

The cultural programme of the festival included the Beringia 2022 sea hunters' regatta with races on traditional Chukchi kayaks among men's and women's teams, as well as events to celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Wrapping up the bill of cultural events, the participants installed the flags of the Bering Strait festival on the easternmost mainland point of Eurasia, Cape Dezhnyov. They went there as part of an expedition tour of the biggest tourist magnets in Chukotka. 

The festival was organised by the Government of the Chukotka Autonomous Area and Rosturizm.

As part of its chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021-2023, Russia pays considerable attention to the development of sustainable tourism in the Arctic for the sake of progressive socio-economic development of the Arctic regions, support for small and medium-sized businesses in high latitudes, as well as the preservation and enlargement of the Northern indigenous peoples' cultural heritage.