Home of whales and advanced aircraft
Ekaterina Puntus
Minister of Tourism of the Khabarovsk Territory

Home of whales and advanced aircraft

Khabarovsk is rapidly becoming an important transport and tourism hub of the Far East that is in demand not only among the Russians but also the foreign travelers. Ekaterina Puntus, Minister of Tourism of the Khabarovsk Territory, told the EcoTourism EXPERT about the tourism anchors in the region and where they can to go to from Khabarovsk.

- The Khabarovsk Territory is actively increasing the tourist flow. What are you doing to attract tourists?

- Indeed, the tourist flow to the Khabarovsk Territory amounted to more than 990 thousand people for 9 months of 2023, this is two times more than for the same period last year. The experts expect the number of tourists visiting our region to exceed 1 million visitors by the end of the year. Currently, there are almost 230 travel companies operating in the region, as well as over 110 tourist centers and sites. There are 13 glamping sites, 2 more are under construction and the existing ones are being expanded.

Supporting the entrepreneurs working in the tourism sector has been and remains among our priorities. This year, on behalf of the Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyaryov, the subsidies from the regional budget have been increased by 3.5 times, from 6 mn to 20 mn rubles, to reimburse businesses for the costs of developing and equipping tourism infrastructure facilities.

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A number of large investment projects are under implementation. One of the largest is the Hekhtsir Sports and Tourism Center. This year-round international mountain ski resort, just half an hour’s drive from Khabarovsk, will consist of eight key areas located on 360 hectares. The first stage of the project is the construction of a ski slope, and the plans are to commission it during the current winter season. A snowmaking system has already been launched, and commissioning work for the cable car is underway. The future plans are to build health centers, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment centers. We do our best to make the mountain ski resort our tourist attraction creating new trends for the development of domestic and inbound tourism. A children’s ski training center should also be set up here.

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Those who are eager to go mountain skiing right now are invited to the operating Holdomi mountain ski resort located in one of the most picturesque places in the Khabarovsk Territory. There are 18 various skiing runs. Tourists can enjoy skiing, snowboarding and tubing. At the foot of the mountain, there is a comfortable hotel, bath center, artificial lake, cable car, rope park, cafes and restaurants. For the second year in a row, the mountain ski resort received the national award Mountains of Russia.


- The Khabarovsk Territory is becoming not only a new tourism center, but also an important logistics hub. Where can travelers continue their trip from Khabarovsk to?

- Thanks to convenient logistics, our region has become a ‘window to the Far Eastern world’. From Khabarovsk, it is easy to get to the Amur Region, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, and other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District. We actively develop the tourism cooperation with neighboring Far Eastern regions. Recently, we have begun working with colleagues who implement the BAM Tourist project dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM); under the project, new interregional tourist routes will be created to connect five regions - the Khabarovsk Territory, the Amur Region, the Republics of Sakha (Yakutia) and Buryatia and the Transbaikal Territory.

As for destinations abroad, direct flights from the Khabarovsk International Airport to Beijing in the winter season were launched at the end of November 2023, which is for the first time in 6 years. Other routes for vacations abroad also offered, for example, to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Bangkok (Thailand). Our plans are to launch direct flights to the Philippines, too.

- The Chinese tourists are probably of prime importance for the region from the point of view of incoming tourism? What do you do to make the Chinese tourists interested in visiting your area?

- After the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese tourists started to travel to Russia again, and traveling became visa-free from September 2023. Tourists from China are greatly interested in traveling around the Khabarovsk Territory. Outdoor activities and fishing are among the priorities, as well as cultural and educational tourism.


To show the region’s tourism capabilities, we organized promotional tours for Chinese tour operators with a focus on fishing and eco-tourism, and Khabarovsk travel companies have developed their own special programs.

To improve the competence of guides, the Department of Oriental Studies of the Pacific State University began training guides with knowledge of the Chinese language. We expect that in 2024, they will start accompanying groups coming from China.

At the same time, we are increasing the promotion of the region in the Chinese Internet space, especially in social media. All materials about tourist routes are translated into Chinese and adapted for each social network.

- A tourism symbol of the Khabarovsk Territory is the Kitolyot. What kind of ‘animal’ is this?

- The Khabarovsk Territory is the habitat of whales (kit in Russian) and the airplanes (‘samolyot’ in Russian) are manufactured in the region. Therefore, it is not surprising that the ‘flying whale’ (kitolyot) combining these two symbols has become the tourism logo of the Khabarovsk Territory.

There are a large number of whales in the Sea of Okhotsk, especially in the area of the Shantar Islands. Sea giants return here every summer and raise their offspring. Tourists can watch them directly from the coast or while boating, which our tourists like to do.

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As for airplanes, the largest aircraft manufacturing factory is located in our region, in an industrial city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. At the exhibition center of the aircraft plant named after. Yu. A. Gagarin, tourists can see the process of manufacturing the most advanced aircraft in the world and get to know the history of the domestic aircraft industry.

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Every corner of our Khabarovsk Territory is full of good vibe. The technological progress and the beauty of nature combine perfectly here. In Khabarovsk, a walk along the Amur embankment is a great pleasure; this slow and mighty river fascinates with its beauty. Another ‘place of power’ is the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk.

- What attractions do you recommend ecotourists to visit in the region?

- The Khabarovsk Territory is rich in beautiful natural attractions. The most exciting ones can be seen in the region’s nature reserves. The Bolshekhehtsirsky and the Komsomolsky reserves are the two largest and most unique ones. There are amazing landscapes and stunning views in this area, and the reserves are also a habitat for Red Data Book birds, animals and plants. Tourists are always welcome here and they can walk along ecological trails, visit the forest museum or go rafting down the mountain rivers. Tourists can walk through the Far-Eastern taiga (dense forest) either alone or accompanied by guides. The main thing is not to forget that they should submit the appropriate application in advance to visit specially protected natural areas.

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- What new tourism segments are you going to develop in the Khabarovsk Territory?

- Agritourism is one of the new tourism segments to be developed in the region. One of our farms is among the winners of the federal Agritourism competition held recently. The grant funds will be used for the construction and reconstruction of accommodation and entertainment infrastructure. The plans of the owners of this eco-farm producing goat milk and dairy products are to offer excursion programs for children and adults. Tourists can learn about the advantages of living in rural areas, in the Khabarovsk Territory, through traditional Russian hospitality, games, workshops on making organic food.

In October, we held a large gastronomic festival Fish-AMUR-Fest with fishing and competitions among fishermen, workshops on cooking fish dishes, and a fair of goods for fishing, as well as souvenirs made of fish skin and fish delicacies was also held. The main dish of the festival was delicious fish soup cooked by professional chefs according to an old Nanai recipe in a 150-liter ‘cooking pot’, and our tourists could watch the process. The Khabarovsk Territory is both interesting and offers tasty food. Come to watch and enjoy the delicious local food!

Photos courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism of the Khabarovsk Territory