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Rural tourism fosters local development in Russia

The village of Krokhino was first mentioned in a monastery chronicle in 1426. It became famous centuries later, when its Nativity Church remained above water after construction of the Volga-Baltic Waterway in 1961 inadvertently turned the whole area into a flooded “no-go” zone, unfit for human habitation.

Until recently, this Baroque-style, three-altar church with its Nikolskiy and Peter-and-Paul chapels seemed doomed to fall victim to water-and ice-induced erosion.

New hope for the church’s survival comes thanks to a group of dedicated enthusiasts who have launched an initiative to salvage the half-destroyed “Phantom Church.” The volunteers come from the Krokhino Centre for Cultural Renaissance Charity Foundation.

In early spring this year, male volunteers stood waist-deep in icy waters to drive pilings for wooden walkways. Meantime, their female counterparts, aged 20 to 72, cleared brick debris and carried sand. Their preliminary efforts paved the way for the start of full-scale restoration works.

The Krokhino initiative was a featured presentation at today’s seminar, “Rural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Areas Development in Russia,” organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The event was part of the “Russian Village – 2017” Forum.

Anor Tukaeva, director of the Charity Foundation, named four reasons the volunteer effort has garnered so much public appreciation:

  • Krokhino with its Nativity Church sits at the gateway to the White Lakes district (Belozerie), one of the birthplaces of Russian statehood. 
  • It is a symbol of human tragedies due to floods, entailing ruined lives, destroyed churches and monasteries, and desecrated spiritual heritage.
  • The region encompasses a unique ninth-century archeological site at the site of Beloozero town. 
  • Positioned along the popular river route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, it is an undisputed tourist attraction with thousands of travelers and pilgrims every year choosing it as their preferred destination.

Roundtable speakers identified rural tourism as a crucial contributor to regional economic development and preservation of cultural heritage in Russia. The event highlighted tourism’s contribution to rural development by creating employment opportunities in areas where other economic activities are often limited. Rural tourism offers off-farm employment, diversifying the rural economy and leading to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
In recognition of the importance of sustainable tourism as an effective means of fighting poverty and helping to protect the environment, the United Nations has declared 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

8 June 2017, Moscow, Russian Federation

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