WP12 - Sustainable tourism in Altai Nature Reserve of Western Siberia (pdf edition)

WP12 - Sustainable tourism in Altai Nature Reserve of Western Siberia (pdf edition)

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Michael Ireland

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Sustainable tourism in Altai Nature Reserve of Western Siberia: Ethnography of Taiga Bay, Lake Teletskoye



This paper uses the ethnographic method to address questions that focus on the social and environmental sustainability of tourism enterprises in the Altai nature reserve in Western Siberia. The theoretical perspective adopted is after Hunter's (1997) work on sustainable tourism paradigms.
The argument advanced is that indigenous cultures must be able to grow and change, if people's livelihoods are to be sustained in peripheral regions. The argument can be defended irrespective of the dominant ideology existing in the Russian Federation.
The paper describes the ethnographic context of lake Teletskoye and its immediate hinterland. Fieldwork undertaken in July 2002 has demonstrated the apparent contradiction that exists between tourism and other forms of economic development and sustainability. It is argued that in practice the post - perestroika period of economic and social relations are governed by a combination of 'wild capitalism' and elements of the old Soviet system.
Any economic system involves choice about the use of resources. The ethnography of the Taiga Bay camp shows that a sustainable tourism attraction can remain viable in the face of increasing pressures for more conventional commercial developments around lake Teletskoye.
A profile of the tourists a - and camp staff is given together with a detailed insight into the recreational activities offered. It is suggested from these observations that a successful small scale green tourism enterprise can be sustained, with an infrastructure which caters for the needs of tourists and is in balance with the environment.
The research on which this paper is based has raised questions about the status of the indigenous Altai people in relation to tourism development and the attitudes of the Siberian Russians to their environment. The research shows that without regulation by the Russian Federation, sustainable tourism enterprises are likely to be threatened by unfettered post perestroika 'Wild' capitalism.

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