The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia are not for another two years, but the Sochi Organizing Committee has already begun thinking long term. Following the UN’s global initiative, “Agenda for the XXI Century,” the Committee, the Russian Regional Environmental Centre, and the Administration of the city of Sochi have been looking over proposals for sustainable development of mountainside villages in the zone of Olympic construction.
History shows us that Olympic host cities that prepare and conduct the Games in compliance with the principles of sustainable development can retain the increase of tourism long after the torch goes out. And Sochi has been paying attention.
Nearly 80% of host cities after 1972 are now among the 200 most popular cities in the world. Just 10 years after Barcelona hosted, the number of tourists doubled, and the average duration of their stay in the city increased by 110%. The benefits to local economies are immeasurable.
Plans were put together using survey data, among other information, of over 600 locals from the small villages of Esto-Sadok, Galitsyno and Chereshnya. Implementing programs for sustainable development have been said to help solve issues regarding social, economic and environmental issues and allow far an increase in civil activity of residents. The world will be watching and hoping to see positive change brought to the area as a result of the Winter Games.
Galitsyno is expected to become the center of recreation and tourism, specializing in ethno-cultural, education, and sports tourism. There are a large number of cultural and historical sites within the vicinity–some dating back to the Paleolithic era–that are simply waiting to be seen.
Chereshnya is the largest of the three towns, and residents work mainly in agriculture and tourism. Based on the survey, it seems locals are proposing to build a plant processing fruit and vegetables as well as promote initiatives to organize regional greenhouses. Their hope is that it could lead to the development of organic production and gastronomic tourism.
The development of Esto-Sadok will focus on sports tourism, taking sports and ecotourism programs (mountain biking, shooting sports, hiking and horse-riding) and enhancing them with visits to cultural and ethnographic sites that populate the area. Russia has a long history that could easily attract travelers curious about the formation of the largest country in the world.
Sustainable development is a combination of economic growth, social development and environmental protection. The idea behind the process is to meet the needs of the present generation while creating the infrastructure for future generations to do the same. It seems that Sochi is off to a good start, and it will be interesting to see the product of their hard work further down the road.