Russia, Japan to Develop Tourism in Disputed Kuril Islands

Russian and Japanese tour operators and tourism authorities are joining efforts to increase the number of yearly visits to the Southern Kuril Islands of Kunashir and Iturup, reported citing the Russian Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm).

At a meeting on Thursday, the two sides discussed boosting the number of tourists up to 200,000 from each side by 2023, the agency said in a press release.

“Participants of the meeting between representatives of Russian and Japanese tourist authorities and leaders of tour operators … discussed tour programs, logistics and other organizational issues and agreed to organize a pilot tour in October 2019,” the statement read.

According to the head of Rosturizm, Zarina Dogusova, Japan is Russia’s target market in terms of developing inbound tourism.

“Based on this, we are in constant communication with the Japanese Tourism Agency regarding the mutual increase in tourist flows. We believe that the successful promotion and implementation of the first pilot tour to the Southern Kuril Islands in October 2019 and plans to launch regular tours is more evidence of the mutual economic interest in tourism, which, in particular, contributes to the achievement of the common goals announced earlier, namely, to increase the number of reciprocal trips up to 200,000 from each side annually by 2023,” Dogusova said.

Rosturizm noted that the Southern Kuril Islands have unique natural features as well as the necessary tourism infrastructure, including hotels.

Both Moscow and Tokyo claim the islands, a dispute that has prevented the two countries from concluding a WWII peace treaty. The sides are currently engaged in talks on the agreement.