Soft loans to be invested in large-scale tourism projects

Soft loans to be invested in large-scale tourism projects

Expert Reports  

Investors in a tourism infrastructure have the opportunity to take out a soft loan for investing in creating year-round amusement parks, water parks and mountain ski resorts.

Since the end of 2023, investors willing to use their money for the development of tourism in Russia can get a preferential loan and invest the funds in the construction of hotels and multifunctional complexes, as well as in the creation of year-round amusement parks, water parks and mountain ski resorts.

The Cabinet of Ministers firmly believes that this will give an impetus to the active development of tourism in Russia thanks to attracting domestic financial resources. In addition, this can stimulate the creation of modern, high-quality tourism infrastructure.

These investments can be an incentive for the development of a large-scale tourism infrastructure. Preferential loan interests will be available to those investors who plan to take part in large-scale tourism projects, for example, the amusement parks and water parks that can host about 1 million visitors per year. As for mountain ski resorts, it is necessary to have at least 450 thousand visitors per year in future to be able to contract a loan for these projects on attractive preferential terms.

Another important condition for the approval of a preferential loan is that these figures should be achieved within two years after commissioning the tourism facility.

It is worth mentioning that the Preferential Lending Program for the tourism sector was launched by the Russian government back in 2021 and initially applied only to the construction and reconstruction of hotels and multifunctional tourism and recreation centers. Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the RF government to ensure an increase in the share of preferential loans provided under this program and to include the preferential loans provided for the construction of amusement parks, water parks and mountain ski resort infrastructure. These instructions were given based on the results of the 26th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) and meetings with the members of the Russian government held in 2023.

According to industry experts’ estimates, these soft loans are necessary for the comprehensive development of such tourism areas as Krasnaya Polyana, Arkhyz, the Caspian Cluster or Novaya Anapa. At the same time, at rough estimates, these preferential loans will allow to attract over 200 billion rubles of private investments into the tourism industry and to ensure the largest multipliers that will involve up to 50 related industries in the activities.

 As for mountain ski resorts, their number may increase by 2-3 times thanks to the Preferential Lending Program. As for theme parks, the situation is similar. While about 25 percent of the population uses the services of theme parks in Europe, only 2 percent of the population visits them in Russia. They are also very heterogeneously distributed throughout the country; there is a serious shortage of them in the Far East and Siberia. There are practically no theme parks at all in the cities with a population of 100,000 to 500,000 people.

As for the lending terms, the project for which the loan is provided must be put into operation no later than 5 years after signing a loan agreement - in the event that it was built from scratch. If the loan was taken for the reconstruction of an existing tourism facility, the interest on the loan is calculated as follows (this is also indicated in the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers): the interest rate cannot exceed the sum of 3 and 30 percent of the key rate of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation in effect on the date when a bank calculates the interest rate on credit. 

At the same time, the program also allows for the possibility of subsidizing a syndicated loan. In simple words, a loan can be provided by two or more banks on the same terms, which allows to distribute the load between banking systems and increase the sum of the money allocated for the implementation of large-scale tourism projects.

The plans are to build a mountain ski resort in the Crimea in the near future, the studies have already been carried out showing that the slopes of the Chatyr-Dag and the Ai-Petri mountains are suitable for mountain skiing.

Another large-scale project is planned for the implementation in the Polar Urals, in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. The tourism cluster has already got the name ‘Rai-Iz’ (from the Russian word ‘Rai’ (paradise) and the Komi word ‘Iz’ (mountain), so, Rai-Iz means the Paradise Mountain. The mountain ski resort will include about 20 kilometers of ski slopes, ski-lifts, sports schools, hotels and restaurants. More than four thousand skiers will be able to enjoy mountain skiing on the slopes simultaneously. Work under the project has already begun, and its cost is currently estimated at over 13 bn rubles.

At the same time, some tourism industry experts doubt that Russia needs such large-scale tourism clusters today.

“The today’s tourism industry in Russia an undivided authority in the tourism industry - a single vertical power structure - is needed more than these large-scale projects. As for the tourism projects, I believe that more attention should be paid to the implementation of small- and medium-scale projects than to such large-scale ones, and support should be provided to them. And these tourism projects should be implemented at least along the Moscow-Vladivostok highway, if not throughout the country,” says Sergey Pozdnyakov, head of the Tourism Expert Community (TEC).