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«    Fabruary 2010    »
электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

Tour companies are getting involved in the search for Genghis Khan’s grave in Tuva

The tomb of great Genghis Khan, which has provoked many search expeditions over many centuries, is to be found in Tuva. This sensational hypothesis was offered at the Round Table meetings with participants of the First international tourism exhibition by the head of Tuva, Sholban Kara-ool. The Premier supposed that the place of burial could be at Chagytai lake. “That is not a Tuvan name, and we know that one of Genghis Khan’s sons was named Chagytai.”. The head of the republic also noted that according to one of well known legendary sources, the protection of the place of the Khan’s burial was assigned to one thousand soldier-guards of the Uriankhit tribe, who, for that reason, were excused from regular military service.

Uriankhit or Uriangkhai, as we know, was what the Mongols called the ancestors of contemporary Tuvans. Eventually the guard was discontinued, and with time, the tomb was lost.

The participants in the meeting, among whom were Mongolian representatives, agreed with the Premier’s logic, and emphasized that this could very well constitute one of the itineraries of educational tourism in the republic. However, the representative of Chinese company which organizes youth tourism, Zhang Honglei, expressed an intention to personally take part in the search. Ecological tourism is in demand by the whole world, and in this respect, Tuva has tremendous untapped potential. What plans do you have regarding our republic, and what, in your opinion, could present an obstacle in their realization?

With these questions, Sholban Kara-ool turned to the tour business professionals from Finland, China, Mongolia, Krasnoyarsk Kray, and Khakassia, and representatives of local tour companies, leaders of municipal agencies and federal administration organs.

We do not want, - he took the attention of the tour operators, - to develop tourism here at the expense of ecology. We are not striving for mass tourism. The tourism that we are striving for here deals with those who are interested in keeping nature clean, and who would like to touch the sources of civilization. We intend to support investments in Tuvan tourism business. That is why we welcome capital that would come for a long time.

For solutions of these tasks, the government has worked out a state program with financial indices for the year 2010 – 50 million rubles, - added Sergei Ten, Vice-chairman of the government.

We are putting into practice government support of small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism sphere; we have a program of government guarantees in the general financing volume of 680 million rubles. The support will be shown in the form of grants to the beginning enterprises to establish their own business, with micro-loans. In this way, these measures are aiming to support businesses which will work in this direction and invest in it.

The participants took active part in evaluating the perspectives suggested by the government. One of the first ones to join in the discussion was the representative of Mongolian company “Dzhenke-tour”, Dashnim Lopsan-Damba. It is one of the major firms of Mongolia, which has built its business around Genghis Khan’s name. The company has erected a 200 ton statue of the great military leader with a whole hotel complex around it in Ulan-Bator.

Dashnim Lopsan-Damba turned attention to that the tourism sphere, first of all, presupposes serious building, and for that reason Buryatia needs to be included in the plans, because they also have are many inimitable unique objects of human culture, of the type that attract travelers. Very much thought should be put into the co-ordination of all this work. Because his company has already used such original architectural directions as yurt towns, the Mongols are ready to share their experience. He also said that his company is prepared to sign an agreement with Tuva in the area of educational tourism. Thanking for the invitation, Mr. Lopsan-Damba said: ”For us, it is very serious that questions of tourism are being handled at the government level. The culture and history of Tuva and Mongolia are very rich, so let’s show them off, and build together!” he jokingly concluded.

Orlan Kirov, the chairman of Tourism Association of Republic Tuva, director of “Alash-Travel”, who has been working in this business for some decades, praised the organizers. In his opinion, this is the first exhibition that has fulfilled its task: real people came who are empowered to conclude agreements and start co-operation. Georgiy Zmanovskiy, vice-director of Krasnoyarsk institute of economics, came to Kyzyl with a solid proposition for establishing a joint consultation center. - In the direction of ecological tourism, I have something to offer, - he was confident. He was supported by Olga Rodkina, director of “Infotsentr Plyus”, who explained the possibilities of informational tours, which are now very much in demand, and which would help to get tourism in Tuva off the ground.

The representative of Chinese company “Singing sands”, which offers a whole range of services in the deserts of Central Asia, named a number of problems, some of which she personally experienced. Specifically, it was not simple to obtain an entry visa, she was kept for a long time at the border crossing, and there were unjustified restrictions in transporting various materials over the border. The head of Tuvan customs office, Vyacheslav Valkov expressed an apology about the situation, and turned the attention to the necessity for closer mutual co-ordination. The Chinese manager Zhang Khonglei shared his impressions of our republic, which could be summarized by one word – rapture. In his words, - until now, people from Tuva have been a tourist resource for China, but from now on the Chinese will become this resource for Tuva. He was confident that if there is a common goal, distances and roads are not a problem. With pleasure he will take his tourists through the magnificent itinerary: through Shushenskoye, where Zhang discovered Lenin’s place of exile, to Chagytai – the supposed site of the tomb of the great Mongolian conqueror. With jeeps – there is no problem!

Yulia Naumova, director of Krasnoyarsk firm “Sayanskoye Koltso” explained that their firm has already opened a branch in Tuva, and Khakassia is the next stage. Having a decade of experience of work in the tourism market, she brought up several problems which surfaced in joint work. First of all, the lack of direct air connections is problematic, and it is necessary to think about re-establishing them. During the course of the exhibition, as the beginning Tuvan entrepreneurs were coming up to her and asked her to send them tourists, she realized that many of them do not really have a good understanding of the situation. They borrow money for the enterprise without understanding howor when they will pay it back. First of all, they have to be urgently taught the basics of enterprise.

The head of the government invited representatives of all the administrative departments which are in some way or other associated with the tourism theme, to the meeting with the guests. Customs employees, police, tax service, and general consul of Mongolia in Kyzyl, Dashbalbaryn Bazarsad, assured those present that they intended to set up a regime that would be favorable to the realization of the republican program of tourism development in Tuva. Only the tax service does not have such a regime, but Sholban Valerievich remarked that it will be necessary for those who will register their companies on the territory of our republic.

The constant leitmotiv of “whoever will be the first one to take up the investment niche in this business in our republic will get the cream”, reverberated in the comments of the head of the region. Of course, it was on the mind of many of the guests.

The only one to express skepticism was the director of tour base “Ergaki”, Viktor Veryasov. As Sholban Kara-ool remarked, “that is where half of Tuva goes for vacation, and he, for some reason, does not want to move 200 km south to organize a similar set-up in our republic.”

- I would like to warn all those present about getting too carried away and being overenthusiastic, - answered the entrepreneur. – Tourism can’t be established in one year, and the money that you invest now will start coming back only in five – seven years. The situation in Ergaki, for example, is now like this: out of five companies working there, three are undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. That is why I would like to forewarn those who will come here with their investments and expectations, so that they won’t end up in a similar situation some time from now. Representatives from the Public Prosecutor, nature protection agencies, and such should have been invited here as well, to look at the fine details. Well, and I wish you good luck in all of this.

The director of the firm “Sablan” from Khakassia, Elena Peshkova, agreed with him: One of the reasons why the Ergaki situation ended up like this is that the tourists behave in an uncivilized manner, they have no respect for nature. That is why I would suggest maybe some kind of accreditation system for the companies who will go into this business. That would mean that if you select a company, you would stand behind them.

The hall welcomed this suggestion with applause.

Closing the meeting, the chairman of the government expressed a wish for the communication in this meeting to continue in real activities. He again emphasized that the first ones to decide to invest here will receive preferential conditions. Many of the high-caliber specialists spoke with gratitude about the way they have been treated in Tuva. What does that show? Only one thing: as the hosts, welcoming important guests during the white month of Shagaa, we have followed the tradition of our ancestors.

Now all we can do is hope that the whole year, according to belief, will be successful as well.

From info by Natalia Bogdanovskaya,, translated by Heda Jindrak
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