Sochi - record number of tourists, more beaches and less apartment buildings
Alexey Kopaygorodsky
Mayor of Sochi

Sochi - record number of tourists, more beaches and less apartment buildings

Aleksey Kopaygorodsky, Mayor of Sochi told journalists back in the fall that the tourist flow to Sochi had grown, the city would have more beaches and fewer high-rise buildings. On the eve of the peak of the winter season we collected the most interesting facts related to tourism and ecology in the main resort city of the country.

Record number of tourists and winter beaches

The growth of the tourist flow to Sochi increased by four percent compared to last year. From the beginning of 2022 until September 15, almost 5.7 mn tourists visited the city, and almost 3.6 mn tourists came during the high season from May to September this year. From June to August, the average occupancy of accommodation facilities was 88%, and it reached 95% in August. The largest room occupancy was at health сentres and boarding houses (providing treatment), as well as at the hotels operating on the ‘all-inclusive’ and ‘ultra-all-inclusive’ system.

“Due to the federal cashback programme, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, Sochi is the most popular destination. It is expected that by the end of the year, over 7.2 mn tourists will visit Sochi, which will be a new record in the modern history of the resort city,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky, Mayor of Sochi.

Winter beaches are making preparations for the tourism season. This year, about 40 beaches are opened. The number of park furniture, places for sports and photo zones will be increased in the promenade areas. On all winter beaches, open athletic training sessions will be organized for enthusiasts of strength sports in workout zones, as well as yoga, dancing, Nordic walking and other outdoor activities.

“Interest in winter recreation in Sochi this year appeared after the ski resorts launched early booking the seasonal ski passes. For the New Year holidays, 35 percent of the hotel rooms in the mountain cluster and 25 percent in the coastal cluster have already been booked,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.

High rates of the tourism season affected the city’s budget. Income receipts to the Sochi’s budget for eight months of this year exceeded the annual receipts of the pre-Olympic period by 15%. The largest increase in revenues, by 2.2 times, was shown by organizations in the sector of health centres and resorts. In the pre-Olympic period, the resort and tourism sector provided on average 10.6% of the annual tax revenues to the Sochi’s budget, and 16.4% for the eight months of 2022. Additional funds received by the city budget this year were also allocated for the development of a comfortable urban environment, including the protection of subtropical flora from pests, and for compensatory planting.

Green City

The Year of Ecology continues in Sochi. In total, the programme consists of 100 events combined by common principles “Green City. Clean sea. Clear sky. Clean air. Environmental education”. They are aimed at preserving and improving natural resources, introducing ‘green’ and resource-saving technologies in Sochi. 70 events of the Year of Ecology programme have already been implemented relating to all areas of the resort city life. This year, the first two Russia’s eco-beaches, Mayak and Dagomys, appeared in Sochi. And 27 Sochi beaches - the first in Russia - were awarded certificates from the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, 23 of them are of the highest category. ‘Blue flags’ indicate high water quality, improved coastline landscaping, and the availability of all necessary infrastructure. Also, ten hotels of the resort city received the ‘Green Key’ international certificate. In the Year of Ecology, the resort city began testing environmentally friendly public transport vehicles. This year, Sochi will receive 26 modern and environmentally friendly buses, and 77 natural gas fuel vehicles will be provided during the next three years. This year, the resort city has increased funding for compensatory planting by 5.5 times. Thanks to additional funds, 1,500 new trees, 6,000 shrubs and 400 palm trees will appear in the city. In total, taking into account plantings in the Sochi National Park and such places like health resorts, 50,000 new trees and bushes will be planted by the end of the year. Half a million flowers have already been planted, another half a million flowers will be planted in the city before the end of the year as part of seasonal landscaping, the total area of flower beds in Sochi is approaching one hectare. An inventory of very-old trees has begun with the assignment of an individual QR-code.

“Five green areas of the resort city received the status of specially protected natural areas of local significance. These are places popular among Sochi residents and tourists. The new status precisely defines permitted and prohibited activities in the area, it protects green planting areas as rare trees and shrubs grow there. Five more areas are under consideration,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.

Together with the scientific community, the recommendations for protecting green planting areas from pests and diseases have been updated. Financing the work in the municipal area increased by 2.5 times. In August, an additional 20 mn roubles were allocated for these purposes. More than 6.5 thousand palm trees are regularly treated on municipal land plots. Each of them will be treated at least six times.

“Pest-infested palm trees that can no longer be saved are monitored on an ongoing basis. The only way to avoid infection of nearby green trees is to demolish them and process them in a special crusher to destroy the larvae. Since the beginning of 2021, 2,309 ‘dead’ palms have been cut and disposed. At the same time, all necessary measures are being taken in Sochi to preserve the palms in the city, large-scale compensatory planting is underway,” the Mayor of the resort city said.

At least one new species of invasive pests is found annually in Sochi. Taking into account the relevance of the work to preserve the trees and bushes, it was decided to develop a municipal programme called Environmental Protection, which would include making the inventory of green planting areas, fighting against pests and plant diseases, compensatory planting, as well as creating the specially protected natural areas of local significance.

Investments come to Sochi

Large investment projects are expected to give at least 400 bn roubles to Sochi. However, many of them are associated with the tourism industry.

“Projects are planned to be implemented in all Sochi’s districts. These are objects in the city’s health centres, health resorts, as well as in the hotel, tourism, logistics, and agricultural sectors of the city, which will provide more than 25,000 new jobs,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky, Mayor of Sochi.

To develop rural tourism in the Adler District, a new agro-industrial cluster will be created on the basis of the Khosta Chai tea-growing enterprise on an area of ​​287 hectares. The basis of the cluster will be agricultural businesses and farms that will produce dairy and sour-milk products, as well as livestock farms and wine-growing and wine-making farms.

New hotel complexes will appear in the mountains of Sochi, in the Krasnaya Polyana. In the Lazarevsky District of the resort city, the investors are planning to upgrade an abandoned boarding house in the Yakornaya Shchel to make a resort with more than 1,000 rooms and its own medical facilities; the services will be offered on an ‘ultra all-inclusive’ system, including for ‘outside’ clients. The investment project provides for the coastline improvement and an increase in the utility infrastructure capacity, as well as the creation of a large park area. In the Khostinsky District, it is planned to complete the reconstruction of the hotel of the Russian Alean Family chain. The renovation of the rooms and the beach area has already been carried out. The next stage involves the construction of new buildings. The hotel complex will have over 480 rooms, and about 380 jobs will be created. Two investment projects for the modernization of the Volna and Kristall health centres will also be implemented in this area. In the Central District of Sochi, a large-scale renovation of the Primorskaya Hotel, the health centres named after Kirov will be carried out and the work is underway there. As part of the reconstruction and development of the Caucasian Riviera health centre, a modern five-star hotel is under construction.

Develop and strengthen

There will be more beaches in Sochi. The programme for the integrated development of Sochi until 2030 provides for improved bank protection. The design of facilities and the filling of beach areas along a four-kilometre coastline are now underway. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023.

“The programme for the integrated development of Sochi until 2030 includes 27 extensive measures for the construction and reconstruction of water supply and wastewater disposal facilities in all areas of Sochi. The implementation of all these projects will make it possible to completely upgrade the city engineering infrastructure, as well as to provide citizens with water and a sewerage system of proper quality, including those in remote settlements. It is planned to allocate about 139 bn roubles from various sources to upgrade the city infrastructure, - said the Mayor of Sochi.

The need to implement the programme for the integrated development of Sochi was once again confirmed by two emergency situations due to heavy rains in Sochi last summer. Many houses were damaged, as were vehicles and urban infrastructure. According to preliminary estimates, the total damage makes 966 mn roubles. As a result, by the end of 2022, a new scheme for the sewage disposal will be developed in the resort city stipulating the construction and reconstruction of storm water sewage system facilities, taking into account all flooding pools, as well as the need to build hydroprotective structures in river beds.

“Today, a lot of work is being done on taking the inventory of utility networks, and city accepted the ownership for ownerless facilities. Over the past three years, the city has accepted transfer of ownership for over 70 kilometres of water supply lines, 40 km of sewerage networks and almost 300 storm water sewage pipes,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.

The resort city carries on work on clearing riverbeds. There are over 130 water bodies in Sochi with a total length of more than 2,800 kilometres. Sediment control in rivers helps to prevent floods, which annually lead to flooding and landslides due to heavy rains, causing serious damage to the city’s residents and infrastructure. To date, clearing of 7 riverbeds is carried out, the work is being done on a total length of 36.1 km. Nine more rivers are planned to be cleared. The total length of the planned clearing is more than 21 km. It is also planned to additionally clear the remaining areas of the Sochi and Mzymta rivers, where the work is already underway. The total length of additional sections is more than 23 km.

“In terms of anti-landslide measures, hazardous areas were determined in all four city districts. More than 600 problem areas have been identified, 40 areas have been examined, and another 225 areas are under instrumental examination. Basic data have been collected and sent to the Government of the Russian Federation for working out the draft federal programme on this issue,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.

Everything is as planned

The development of Sochi until 2044 will determine the new City Development Master Plan, which will be approved by September 2023. The final strategic document is to be adopted by September 2023 and it will determine the development of the resort city until 2044.

“The draft of the new Sochi’s City Development Master Plan does not stipulate the allocation of area for the new construction of multi-apartment residential buildings. Socially significant facilities will be built in the resort city, socially important investment projects will be implemented, and new public open spaces will be made,” said Mayor of Sochi.

A lot of work is already underway in Sochi on the cadastral registration of green zones, and over 300 such public spaces of 124 hectares have already been registered.

“Over the past three years, 33 new squares or embankments have been built or reconstructed in all districts, all suitable areas are being considered for landscaping and planting new trees and bushes to make creating the public open spaces for walking and recreation for the resort city’s citizens and visitors possible. In the Year of Ecology, this work received a new impetus, and the work is carried out according to environmental standards. Electrical wires ‘go underground’ as part of the ‘clear sky’ concept. Green spaces are equipped with an automatic watering system, which saves water resources and ensures better watering the plants,” said Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.

New green zones are also being created as part of the implementation of the Formation of a Comfortable Urban Environment programme, as well as ‘resort fees’ and initiative budgeting projects. In the Khostinsky District, the improvement and landscaping of Frunze Park has begun, and the embankment of the Khosta River has also been landscaped. The area of 900 metres was re-paved with stones, street lighting and new park furniture were provided. In the Adler District, three public gardens were landscaped this year alone. In the Lazarevsky District, work is underway to improve the areas near memorial sights in the villages of Sergey-Pole, Nizhnyaya Khobza and Baranovka. During the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the Krasnodar Territory, an Alley of Glory was set up where a memorial stone was installed and 85 relic maidenhair trees (Ginkgo biloba) were planted. This year, in the Central District, green areas were landscaped near the Lomayushchaya Strely (Horsewoman Breaking Arrows) monument on Tsvetnoy Boulevard and near the square in 60 Let VLKSM Street.

“A lot of work is being done to restore the Sergey Venchagov’s heritage who created the signature Sochi style of landscaping. The compositions in the City Assembly square and near the Organ Hall have already been restored. Work is nearing completion on the Forest Corner in the Komsomolsky Square. In the near future, the work will begin in the Festivalny Square and the Russian-Japanese Friendship Garden, and before the end of the year, the work will start in Pervomaiskaya Street. A new square was opened near the Winter Theater. All these attractions will be combined into a single walking tour route,” told Aleksey Kopaygorodsky.