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'That time Barnaul was undoubtedly the most cultural corner of Siberia. I named it Siberian Athens'
Pyotr Tyan-Shanskiy, 1856

A meteoric rise in tourism on the edge of Siberia?

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 March 2013

It's been mocked as 'Meteor Disneyland' - but in fact tourists from around the world are keen to come and see for themselves.

Japanese tourists have been wooed already to the region with tour company Sputnik offering two tours. Picture: The Siberian Times 

At an international tourism exhibition in Moscow this week, a new tourist route in the Urals was christened 'In the Footsteps of the Meteorite'.

Tourist firms from India, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt were showing interest in tours to Chelyabinsk - where more than 1,000 were injured in last month's spectacular space rock explosion - and Chebarkul, where the celestial object came to rest in a local lake. 

'We have brought with us a total of 80 kilograms - half of which are souvenirs linked to the meteorite. They include pennants, calendars, brochures and souvenirs copying the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Our colleagues are surprised how quickly we have managed to prepare the exposition', local tourism chief Natalya Gritsay told Itar-Tass.

Earlier she stressed to Bloomberg: 'Space sent us a gift and we need to make use of it. We need our own Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty'.

Japanese tourists have been wooed already to the region with tour company Sputnik offering two tours. 

'One is a two-day tour to the impact site at Chebarkul, while the other includes city sightseeing and will last longer,' said manager  Elena Kolesnikova.  'The price is around $800 per person, which includes a hotel.'

This week it was revealed that the space rock that struck the Urals was around 289 million years old. Or rather it has been flying around space for this length of time, but in fact its substance - which tourists will eagerly examine - is much more ancient. 

Chelyabinsk meteorite 2013


Chelyabinsk meteorite 2013

The blast was the biggest of its kind in more than a century. It shattered windows across the regional capital, also called Chelyabinsk, wounding more than 1,400 people and damaging more than 4,000 buildings. Pictures: Marat Akhmetvaleyev 

'The meteor's substance is about 4.5 billion years old,' said Erik Galimov, director of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry at a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium.

'But the event that caused the meteor to break off its parent space body occurred nearly 289 million years ago'.

And then there was a second collision. 

'Apparently, tens of thousands years ago the meteor collided with another space body to receive multiple cracks,' explaining this is  why the flash of light over Chelyabinsk was so bright, smashing glass with the force of an atomic bomb. 

The tourism theme seems to have caught the imagination around the globe. 

'The last time a disaster with global impact struck Chelyabinsk, officials covered it up for three decades. This time, they're marketing it to the world,' reported the Edmonton Journal. 

'The meteor was about 17 metres across and weighed more than 10,000 tons when it hit the atmosphere and exploded with the force of about 33 Hiroshima A-bombs, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 

Chelyabinsk meteorite 2013

Chelyabinsk must use its new fame to bring benefits to the region, said  Governor Mikhail Yurevich. 'Nobody had heard about us and now all the world knows. We can earn some dividends on that'. Picture: Marat Akhmetvaleyev 

'The blast was the biggest of its kind in more than a century. It shattered windows across the regional capital, also called Chelyabinsk, wounding more than 1,400 people and damaging more than 4,000 buildings.

'An explosion at the Mayak processing facility in the region in 1957 released dozens of tons of high-level radioactive waste that killed hundreds of people in what is now ranked by International Atomic Energy Agency standards as the worst atomic accident after Chornobyl in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan.

'While the Soviets kept the Mayak leak a secret for more than 30 years, local officials are determined to capitalise on the latest apocalyptic event. Proposals proffered at an economic meeting in Chebarkul ranged from holding an annual 'cosmic music and fireworks festival' to erecting a 'floating beacon-tipped pyramid' atop the lake.'

Chelyabinsk must use its new fame to bring benefits to the region, said  Governor Mikhail Yurevich. 

'Nobody had heard about us and now all the world knows. We can earn some dividends on that.

'If there'll be a massive tourist inflow, we'll build more hotels'.

Comments (1)

well why not its a good attraction to use
Mariusz, Warsaw
21/03/2013 14:19
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