Winter Olympics to showcase Russia's tourism delights

3rd Feb 2014

Tourists heading for city breaks to Sochi in Russia in the coming few weeks will discover it has far more to offer than the ski-jumping, curling and bobsleighing of the upcoming Winter Olympics.

The eyes of the world will be focused on this Black Sea resort for the 17-day sporting jamboree starting on Friday (February 7).

The team GB athletes have already arrived in Sochi, and they have said they're impressed by the site and its facilities.

British short track speed skater Team-mate Charlotte Gilmartin said of the Iceberg arena: "The place is incredible. The lights are so bright, and cameras everywhere."

The attention Sochi will get over the coming weeks will put not just Sochi but the whole of Russia in the spotlight, showcasing what it has to offer those looking for a winter or spring getaway.

Beyond the usual tourist staples of Moscow, St Petersburg and the Trans-Siberian railway, Russia is largely unknown to many Brit travellers.

But when you combine a new generation of travellers hungry for off-the-beaten-track experiences with the fact the Russian government is making tourism an economic priority, the country is likely to become much more well-known by British holidaymakers.

It is hoped the Games will place the new Russia in the shop window, not only to tourists on tailor-made holidays for the event but for a massive global TV audience too.

Alla Manilova, Russia's deputy minister of culture, said Russia has in the past failed to highlight the numerous sights and attractions it has to offer holidaymakers. The country for example boasts 23 Unesco World Heritage sites.

Natural wonders include Kamchatka's geysers and volcanoes, Karelia's lakes and granite rocks, Altai's snow-capped mountains and Tyva's wild steppes.

Manilova added: "There has been an information vacuum, but that is going to change. We are going to make this country tourist-friendly."

Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, near the Russian border between Georgia/Abkhazia.

It is emerging as a destination for glorious beaches and "must-see" nature, as well as myriad ski resorts, such as Krasnaya Polyana, that helped it secure the Winter Olympics.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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