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Chelyabinsk meteorite for "gourmet" tourists

Chelyabinsk meteorite for "gourmet" tourists

03.07.2013 — Analysis

Soon after a fireball streaked through the skies above the South Urals, the event received worldwide publicity.

Having eliminated the consequences of the winter incident, the regional authorities reassessed the event, seeing it as a blessing in disguise, and decided that the "cosmic intruder" could be of service to the Chelyabinsk Region, helping it to attract visitors. Depending on preferences of the latter, the meteorite could be positioned either as "the main course" or as "dessert" – there is plenty to see in the region.

The bolide exploded in the sky over the Chelyabinsk Region on February 15, 2013, causing damage estimated at 1 billion rubles. The South Urals does not mind receiving the compensation owed by the uninvited guest with the help of tourists. Immediately after the incident, the "space" region captured attention of many people from all over Russia and different countries of the world. Sight-seekers and adventure tourists headed straight for the place of the fall to Chebarkul Lake. Inquisitive travelers assessed "the results of the visit" paid by the guest from the Universe and searched for its fragments. Residents of the neighboring regions were the first to break meteorite trails, though tourists from different countries do not stay indifferent.

"All over the world, meteorite landing places usually become points of attraction; many people evince interest. The name of the lake in the Chelyabinsk Region, which, according to the first-hand reports, became a landing place for one of the fragments of the visitant, was announced in the news to the world community, on all television channels and in all languages. It is most likely to become a pilgrimage tourist destination," Mikhail Yurevich, the region’s governor, has no doubt.

RusBusinessNews has learnt from officials of the Ministry of Culture of the Chelyabinsk Region that a culture-focused Chinese delegation is expected to visit the South Urals in the first half of July. The Chinese representatives are thrilled with the meteorite story.

The interest level of foreign visitors went off the scale at the Intourmarket International Travel Fair that was held in Moscow. Representatives from nearly 140 countries came to the tourist forum. 30 kilograms of "meteorite" souvenirs – banners, calendars, brochures, magnets and other commemorative paraphernalia were immediately snapped up by the visitors of the exhibition. According to Natalia Gritsai, head of the Tourism Department of the Regional Ministry of Culture, the South Ural exhibition attracted not only Russian firms, but also travel companies from India, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Egypt.

The meteorite turned out to be extremely helpful in stirring up interest to the Chelyabinsk Region famous for its natural parks Taganai and Zyuratkul, Ilmen Natural Reserve, Russian Brazil mineralogical province, Ignatievskaya Cave with a "picture gallery" of drawings made by ancient people, and, certainly, Arkaim Historical and Cultural Reserve – the crowning glory of the local residents.

"In my opinion, the meteorite is interesting especially in the context of the overall knowledge of the Chelyabinsk Region that is a land of promise for those who likes active and intellectual recreation," Elena Bormenkova, the director of the Regional Center for Tourism Development, told RusBusinessNews.

Those who want to follow "the meteorite trail" can take a tour along a specially developed route through Chelyabinsk, Chebarkul and Ilmen reserve. In the capital of the South Urals tourists will be shown around "historical ruins", though they will be able to see the collapsed structures only in photographs and compare them with the restored buildings.

Tourists will certainly be interested in visiting the Museum of Local Lore with its exhibition "The Space Wanderer: Eyewitness Accounts". Visitors will be able to see the documentary evidence of the explosion – authentic photographs, dash camera records and even the movie made shortly after the explosion. The story of the bolide is accompanied by the centuries-long historical background, including the hypothesis about the astronomical observatory that existed in Arkaim more than 4000 years ago. There is also a mini-exhibition of meteorite fragments in the Ilmen reserve.

Chebarkul Lake has the drawing power of a meteorite magnet. As RusBusinessNews has learned from Viktor Grokhovsky, a member of the Meteorite Committee of the Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the meteorite expedition of the Ural Federal University, residents of the South Urals found and collected about 100 kilograms of splinters; at present, scientists of different countries are studying about 6 kilograms of the space material.

Large fragments of the meteorite are on the bottom of the lake. At the moment they cannot be raised to the surface, as the city receives its water supply from Chebarkul. "The bottom is covered by a 5-meter layer of mud and silt; therefore, water intake will be impossible, if the layer is disturbed," the scientist said. He mentioned the project that is going to be developed in the near future and will offer the way of raising the fragments of the celestial body, but it will definitely take quite a few months.

RusBusinessNews was informed at the Center for Tourism Development that Chebarkul has well-developed hospitality infrastructure and can accommodate those who will want to look at the legendary lake. The town is surrounded by a recreation area with numerous holiday hotels, health centers, recreation camps. The town of Chebarkul has a sufficient hotel room stock.

"Space tourists" can stay in Chelyabinsk where they can always "pick up" the route they want. Far-sighted tour operators offer mini-tours for tourists coming to the South Urals and organize coach tours from destinations popular among tourists. Even if it was not the meteorite that attracted any tourists, they are unlikely to refuse from the tour along the meteorite trail. Small business will generously provide tourists with souvenirs.

Deciding not to wait until business entities get hold of the space story, the South Ural authorities filed an application to the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks to "stake out" a claim for trademarks "Chelyabinsk meteorite", "Chebarkul meteorite", "Chelyabinsk – the meteorite capital of Russia", "The space alien". The logotype will be registered later. The patent will make it possible to use the brands for cultural and tourist events, for publishing, and for video-products. In February 2014, the regional authorities are planning to celebrate the anniversary of the space visit and to have either a firework festival or an ice show.

The authorities of the South Ural capital decided to eternalize the event and held the contest – Win Fame Together with the Meteorite!". Residents of the region submitted 730 applications containing their ideas; the Expert Board headed by Oleg Mityaev and Ernst Neizvestny selected ten best projects. The three leaders were selected by the people’s jury through online voting. The monument "Broken Window" was awarded the third place; the second place was won by the author of the idea about commemorative coins featuring the bolide, while the unconditional winner was the author of the project of an extreme park. The author received 100 thousand rubles, and the South Ural capital will receive the area for enthusiasts of parkour. The extreme park will become another attraction point in Chelyabinsk having a cosmic "trail".

All of the sights in the Chelyabinsk Region will be available at the information portal of tourist resources, which will soon be launched by the Center for Tourism Development. It will also have a calendar of interesting events, and visitors will be able to plan their route and solve their organizational issues.


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