3.5 Recreational resources

3.5 Recreational resources

In terms of tourism development, Lake Baikal basin can be considered as an insufficiently developed territory, which nevertheless has preserved a great diversity of natural landscapes, objects of cultural and historical legacy. Lake Baikal and the adjacent territory has been a traditional destination for tourists, but the share of tourism in regional economy is still insignificant and makes up not more than 1%.

Recreational resources of the basin are concentrated primarily along the shore of the lake with the total length of about 2 thousand km, of which 70% are only accessible by water transport. There are also unique landscapes as well as sites suitable for setting up recreational facilities (pic. 3.5.1). The shore area has 26 mineral springs of recreational significance, 128 monuments of nature and 94 historical-cultural objects. The expansion of tourism industry in the region hinges upon infrastructural development [2].

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Pic. 3.5.1 Aesthetic image of the Baikal shore [1]

The number of tourists, visiting Baikal, is increasing each year. In 2012, Irkutsk region and the Republic of Buryatia saw the arrival of 1,529 thousand officially registered tourists, 80.1 thousand of them were foreign tourists. In 2013, the number of tourists decreased by 3% and was 1,479 thousand, including 88.1 thousand foreign tourists (pic. 3.5.2). In 2012, the number of tourists rose in Irkutsk region by 4.4% and in the Republic of Buryatia – by 34.9%, in comparison with the previous year. In 2013, the number of tourists in Irkutsk region fell by 16%, while in the Republic of Buryatia rose by 10%. Among the foreign tourists, most of the guests are from PRC, Germany, Mongolia, Korea, France, the USA, UK, Poland and Japan. The tourist services were estimated at 10,130 million rubles in 2012 and 10,235 million rubles in 2013. The number of people engaged in the sphere of tourism was 20.5 thousand in 2012 and 21.2 thousand in 2013 [4].

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Pic. 3.5.2 Tourism of Baikal basin [1]

The most widespread kinds of tourism in Lake Baikal region are:

- learning: routes along the Circum-Baikal Railroad, ethnographic excursions to the “Taltsy” museum, excursions to Baikal museum and other historical-cultural routes;

- ecological: routes on the ice surface of Lake Baikal, cruises and leisure trips on the lake, walking, horse and bicycle routes along the Great Baikal path, skiing tours; canoe tours, kitesurfing, kiteboarding, freeride, speleological tourism;

- hunting tourism: trophy hunting for animals and game, summer and winter ice fishing, gathering wild herbs;

- curative and recreational: sanatoria and recreation resorts with treatment, health resorts, balneological tourism;

- organized recreation: recreation camps, camping, tourist bases, recreation facilities, hotels, motels, rooms for  rental. The accommodation capacity of all the recreation facilities on Lake Baikal is about 20 thousand tourists, which makes it possible to provide service to about 300 thousand visitors in the period from June  to September.

-non-organized recreation, tourism is developing on the territory of SPNT.

One of the major directions of tourism on Lake Baikal is water cruises and trips, introducing the most picturesque locations on the lake (pic. 3.5.3). This is the most ecologically-friendly kinds of tourism, even though its prospects for development are restricted. In 2012-2013, there were more than 80 vessels, with the total capacity of more than 1640 people, offering a ride on the lake.

Pic. 3.5.3 The cruise ship

In 2007, the Russian Government made a decision to set up special economic zones (SEZ) of tourist type in Irkutsk region and the Republic of Buryatia with the purpose of developing tourism and recreation on Lake Baikal through establishing partnership between public and private sectors and attracting investment for the infrastructural development [3,4].

The boundaries of the zone in Irkutsk Region were defined around Bolshoe Goloustnoe with the total area of 1590 ha. In 2010, the Russian Federation Government decided on the establishment of the SEZ on the territory of Slyudyanka municipal district (mountain skiing resort «Mountain Sobolinaya» and «Mangutai»). For the implementation of the project, in 2013 the Government of Irkutsk Region developed and approved the Long-term goal-oriented program «Construction of infrastructure objects for the improvement of the special economic zone of tourist-recreation type on the municipal district of Slyudyanka» for 2012-2015.

Work at the widening of the SEZ boundaries was continued through the inclusion of the adjacent territories of Listvyanka – Port Baikal – Circum-Baikal Railroad. Tourist agencies, working on the territory of the southern shore, can use well-developed infrastructure and provide services to a stable flow of tourists.

Apart from that, there exists a real chance for enhancing economic attractiveness and efficiency of the project by means of including into the zone of the cluster with the central points of Irkutsk – Listvyanka – Port Baikal – Circum-Baikal Railroad – Baikalsk – Republic of Buryatia (Baikal ring).

The status of recreation-oriented localities was granted to five territories of the Republic of Buryatia, including «Baikal Priboi – Kultushnaya» (pic. 3.5.4) and «Lemasovo» (pic. 3.5.5) in Kabansky district, «Severo-Baikalskaya» in Severobaikalsk district, «Barguzin shore of Baikal» in Barguzinsky district and «Lake Scuchie» in Selenginsky district.

Pic. 3.5.4 The recreational terrain «Baikalskiy priboy»

Pic. 3.5.5 The recreational terrain «Lemasovo»

A similar SEZ with the name «Baikal Harbor» was set up on the territory of Pribaikalsky district as well to incorporate the sites «Turka», «Sands», «Goryachinsk», «Bezymyannaya Bay», «Mount Bychya» with the total area of 3,284 ha. All the sites are united through the single concept of development and disposition of tourist objects (pic. 3.5.6).

Pic. 3.5.6 Office of SEZ «Baikal harbor»

The development of the sites «Turka» and «Sands» is designed along the following directions: construction of hotels, congress complex, SPA-center, port with harbors, cottage village for tourists, open and closed sports facilities, restaurants etc.  The construction of infrastructural objects is almost completed (pic. 3.5.7).

Pic. 3.5.7 The site «Turka»

The site «Mount Bychya» is promoted as a «year-round mountain resort». The place has favorable climatic conditions – up to 200 sunny days annually. In 2012, the project of the site design was elaborated and the list of engineering and transportation infrastructural objects was drawn up.

The site «Goryachinsk» is promoted as «curative SPA resort», which will specialize in the use of mineral, thermal waters and therapeutic mud (pic. 3.5.8). In 2012, the Supervisory Board of SPZ «Baikal Harbor» approved the development plan for the site «Goryachinsk». The plan was developed by the consulting company KPMG. The total capital expenditures of investors and the state on the realization of the plan will amount to 3.6 billion rubles (in prices of 2012). From 2013 to 2017 the recreation complex «Baikal» and scientific-cultural thematic park will be built. The period from 2017 to 2020 will the construction of the family-entertainment resort of Center Parcs type. The bases for extreme types of sport (windsurfing, ice diving), a fishing base and a camping site will be constructed as well. In accordance with the development plan, by 2020 the number of organized tourist traffic to Lake Baikal can reach 2 million people annually. Among them, the number of tourists bound for the site «Goryachinsk» will be about 50 thousand people annually.

Pic. 3.5.8 The resort «Goryachinsk»

The resort «Bezymyannaya Bay» is the most remote site in SEZ and is designed for VIP-tourists on Lake Baikal. In 2013, the Supervisory Board of SPZ considered business plans of the companies - potential residents of the SPZ. During 2008-2013, the amount of expenses on the project «Baikal Harbor» totaled 4.1 billion rubles.

Since 2012, implementation of 4 large investment projects under the federal goal-oriented program «Development of domestic and international tourism in the Russian Federation (2011-2018 years)» has commenced. The projects are the tourist recreation cluster «Podlemorie» (Kabansky district), 3 auto-tourist clusters – «Kyachta» (Kyachtinsky district), «Baikalsky» (Ivolginsly district), and «Tunka valley» (Tunkinsky district) [6,14].

The government of Mongolia aims at developing tourism as one of the leading sectors of economy. «National Programme on Tourism» has been developed with the view of facilitating infrastructure development, creation of a favourable environment for investment, establishment of tourism complexes and adoption of optimal marketing policy. Seven regions of the country have been recommended for tourism development [9]:

- Ulaanbaatar – the capital of Mongolia founded in 1639. The center of Buddhism in the country has grown to reflect a mix of ancient traditions and modern lifestyle (pic. 3.5.9).

- Khuvsgul region – Mongolia’s alpine area with snow-covered and crystal clear lakes. Lake Khuvsgul is one of the deepest in the world (pic. 3.5.10).

- Orkhon Valley – the site of the ancient Karakorum, or throne of the Khans. The famous Erdene Zuu Monastery, the first temple in the country, is still functioning, and has numerous monuments and historical relicts (pic. 3.5.11).

- Gobi desert – the largest and best known desert in Asia. Not a sand dessert like Sahara, it has a rich biodiversity with many fascinating plant and animal species.

- Mongolian Steppes – the vast, flat, treeless plains were the site of many ancient battles, and refuge of horse thieves. In some areas, caves lead underground into huge water-filled caverns.

- Khentii aimag – the birth place of Chingis Khan. Set amongst beautiful scenery are monuments to the emperor, as well as museums displaying his life history and achievements (pic. 3.5.12).

Pic. 3.5.9 The Ulaanbaatar - the center of Buddhism in Mongolia

Pic. 3.5.10 Highland Lake Khuvsgul

Pic. 3.5.11 Orkhon River Valley

Pic. 3.5.12 The monument of Chinggis Khan

About 70-80% of tourists visiting Mongolia stay for 10-11 days and engage in fishing, hunting, horse riding, sightseeing, go in walking and auto tours (pic. 3.5.13).

Pic. 3.5.13 The item of horse riding

During the three years between 2009 and 2011, the number of foreign tourists grew by 11%, accordingly revenues increased by 32.5 percent. In 2011, 460 thousand tourists visited Mongolia generating 25 thousand jobs in the sector and 4% of GDP.

In 2013, among the tourists visiting Mongolia 42.7% were from China, 17.8% from Russia, 10.8% from South Korea, 4.4% from Japan, 3.5% of the USA, 2.7% from Kazakhstan, 2.3% from Germany, the rest were from other countries.

In recent years, a rapidly increasing number of domestic tourists undertake travel within the country. No statistical data are available for domestic tourism. Popular destinations are Bogd Khan-Uul, Terelj (pic. 3.5.14), Erdene zuu, Kharkhorun, Ulaan thutgalan, Tsenkheriin, Ugii nuur, Khuvsgul nuur, Naiman nuur, Khorgiin togoo and Terkhiin tsagaan nuur.

Pic. 3.5.14 Terelj National Park

In 2013, in Khuvsgul aimag within the Selenga river basin there were 53 tourist camps, 33 ger-hotels, 15 resorts, 5 hotels, and 18 motels, with a total capacity to accommodate 3000 tourists. In the Orkhon river basin, there are more than 40 registered tourist camps, among them 34.1% in Arkhangai aimag, 31.7% in Selenge aimag, and 26.8% on Uvurkhangai aimag. In the Tuul river basin, there are more than 70 tourist camps, with majority of them (70%) working in special protected area Gorki-Terelj. They have capacity to receive 4000 tourists.

Mongolia promotes health tourism as well. Major destinations for health tourists are locations of geothermal springs, cold mineral springs, mud lakes having medicinal properties. In Mongolia, there are about 40 geothermal springs and 52 cold mineral springs [15].

Within the Selenga river basin there are about 20 resorts, such as «Orgil», «Khujirt», «Elma-Khujirt», «Ar Janchivlan», «Ovor Janchivlan», «Galt khaluun us», etc. [16]. «Orgil» resort is located in Bogd Khan-Uul Mountains in Khan-Uul district. The mineral spring water is hydrocarbonate-calcium-potassium water of low mineralization and low acidity. The spring water is used to treat digestive tract disorders. The resourt have a capacity of accommodating 250 patients. «Khujirt» resort is located in Khujirt soum of Uvurkhangai aimag, within the Orkhon river basin. It is a mountainous location at an elevation of 1600 meters above sea level, between Shunkhlai, Gua, and Shiveet mountains of Khangai ridge. The water of the geothermal spring is rich in carbonate, sulfur, calcium and fluoride. Mud therapy is also available. The spring water and mud are used in treating skin diseases, blood pressure problems, rheumatic fever and diseases affecting the nervous system. The resort’s accommodation capacity is 350-600 patients.  «Khasu-Shivert» resort complex is located in Battsengel soum of Arkhangai aimag. The resort complex is built around natural hot springs, and boasts a wide range of facilities - outdoor pools, natural treatment centers, sports facilities, etc. Water of the geothermal springs is rich in sulfur. Mud from Lake «Hokhoi unadag» is used for therapeutic purposes.



  1. Ecological atlas of the Lake Baikal basin – Irkutsk: Institute of Geography SB RAS. 2014. http://bic.iwlearn.org/ru/atlas/atlas
  2. State report “On the state of Lake Baikal and measures for its conservation in 2013” - Irkutsk. Siberian branch of “Rosgeolfond”,  2014. - pp. 462. http://www.mnr.gov.ru/regulatory/list.php?part=1258 (in Russian)
  3. State report “On the state of the environment and its proptection in the Republic of Buryataia in 2012”.  http://minpriroda-rb.ru/upload/iblock/9cb/frmoytmrq2013.pdf (in Russian)
  4. State report “On the state of the environment and its proptection in the Republic of Buryataia in 2013”.  http://minpriroda-rb.ru/upload/iblock/26b/gocdoclad_2013.pdf (in Russian)
  5. Transboundary diagnostic analysis of the Lake Baikal basin. http://Baikal.iwlearn.org
  6. State report “On the state of Lake Baikal and measures for its conservation in 2012” - Irkutsk. Siberian branch of “Rosgeolfond”, 2013. - pp. 436. http://www.mnr.gov.ru/regulatory/list.php?part=1258 (in Russian)
  7. Zabaikalkraitrast  http://chita.gks.ru
  8. Socio-economic state of the municipal districts of Zabaikalski Krai / Zabaikalkraitrast. - Chita, 2013. – 149 pp.
  9. National Statistical Office of Mongolia, «National statistics yearbook of Mongolia», 2013
  10. Buryatia in figures.  2014. Statistical book / Buryatstat. Ulan-Ude, 2014.-107 pp.
  11. Integrated water management plan of Mongolia, 2013.
  12. Statistical Yearbook. 2013.Statistichesky collection / Buryatstat.Ulan-Ude, 2013, 514 p.
  13. Report on the execution of the Law of the Republic of Buryatia “On the programme of socio-economic development of the Republic of Buryatia in 2011-2015” in 2012 www.egov_buryatia.ru/uploads/tx_npa/3477docx
  14. www.baikaltravel.ru

15.  MEGD, “Strengthening Integrated Water Resource Management in Mongolia” project,  “Integrated Water Management Assessment Report”, Volume III, UB city,  2012

16. “National programme for Spa Resort development”, Appendix №1 of the Mongolian Government Resolution № 251, http://www.legalinfo.mn/annex/showPrint/1416

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