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Cablegate: Dbs Ferry to Attract Tourism to Primorye?

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DE RUEHVK #0093/01 2600510
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170510Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1198
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
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RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1303

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 VLADIVOSTOK 000093

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TAGS: EWWT EIND ECIN EINV PGOV PREL PHSA RS JA KS
SUBJECT: DBS FERRY TO ATTRACT TOURISM TO PRIMORYE?

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UNCLASSIFIED
PROG 09/17/09
CG:TARMBRUSTER
POL/ECON:JFREEMAN
POL/ECON:NGKATSAKIS
ECON

AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
CIS COLLECTIVE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE
CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EWWT EIND ECIN EINV PGOV PREL PHSA RS JA KS

SUBJECT: DBS FERRY TO ATTRACT TOURISM TO PRIMORYE?

1. (SBU) Summary: A new, South Korean-owned cruise ferry
connecting Vladivostok, Donghae, South Koreia, and Sakaiminato,
Japan began operating on July 7. Local officials hope it will
help boost tourism to Primorye Region, as it offers an
affordable, comfortable, and convenient way to travel between
the three cities, compared to the airlines and other ferry
services. Local officials would also like to see more foreign
investment to boost Primorye's tourism services. An
inconvenient schedule and visa regime may hinder the ferry
line's success, however. Primorye officials also plan to
further develop their relatively poor tourism infrastructure,
especially during the run-up to the APEC Conference in 2012,
with emphasis placed on eco-tourism and other areas that make
the region unique. End summary.

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DBS to Bring Tourism to Primorye?
---------------------------------

2. (U) With airline tickets between Vladivostok and Seoul
costing upwards of USD 800, the Donghae (South
Korea)-Vladivostok (Russia)-Sakaiminato (Japan) (DBS) Cruise
Ferry, which began operation on July 7, is set to make travel
between South Korea, Japan, and Russia more comfortable and
affordable. Officials in the Primorye Region also hope the
South Korean-based DBS will increase tourism to their region, as
the number of foreign tourists to the region has decreased
dramatically over the course of the last four years.

3. (U) The DBS Ferry is not the first international cruise ferry
service with service to Primorye. The Dong Chun Ferry runs
between Zarubino, Primorye and Sokcho, South Korea, while
BusinessInTourService operates a ferry line between Vladivostok
and Toyoma, Japan. The DBS ferry will compete with these lines
and offer new, upgraded services, which will hopefully boost the
tourism industry in Primorye.

4. (U) Unlike its competitors, the DBS Ferry Line enables
Primorye Residents to travel to both Japan and South Korea on
the same vessel. While the BusinessIntourService's cheapest
one-way tickets from Vladivostok to Japan run at USD 440, DBS
offers one way tickets on faster vessels between the two
countries for USD 210. With a duty free shop, sauna, night
club, restaurant, and Jacuzzi, the DBS Line's vessel, the
Eastern Dream, offers better amenities than the similarly priced
Dong Chun Ferry. The Eastern Dream arrives in Vladivostok every
Tuesday, while Russian passengers usually have to board the Dong
Chun Ferry at the nearby urban settlement of Zarubino.

5. (SBU) Another hope is that the DBS Ferry will encourage South
Korean, Japanese, and Chinese companies to invest better
offering services for tourists in Primorye. South Korean Consul
Ki Dae Kim explained to Consulate Staff that South Korea, the
corporate headquarters of the DBS and Dong Chun ferry lines as
well as the only four star hotel in Vladivostok, has made an
unprecedented contribution to the development of tourist
infrastructure in Primorye. Other regional actors are ready to
follow South Korea's example: Deputy Consul-General of Japan in
Vladivostok Tomonori Hasegawa emphasized his country's interest
in making similar inroads into the Primorye tourist market. He
described the future creation of a Japanese ferry line between
Japan and Primorye as "very possible." According to Mikhail
Lapin, Specialist at the Primorye Regional Department of
International Relations and Tourism, Chinese businesses may open
a ferry line between Vladivostok and China if DBS is successful.

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VLADIVOSTO 00000093 002.2 OF 003


Visa Regime and Schedule May Hinder Success
-------------------------------------------

6. (U) Obstacles to the DBS's success remain, however. The
Eastern Dream arrives at port on Vladivostok only on Tuesdays.
This means that South Korean and Japanese passengers have only
4-6 hours to spend in the city unless they obtain a Russian visa
(and remain in Russia for at least one week). Russian
passengers likewise are unable to return home via the Eastern
Dream until a week after departing from Vladivostok. Russians
who are planning shorter trips therefore cannot utilize DBS's
ferry line.

7. (U) While tourists who travel by ferry to Russia do not need
a visa if their trip will be shorter than 72 hours, Russians
need visas in order to travel to Japan or South Korea. In a bid
to increase the popularity of the DBS ferry, the Primorye
Regional Government has been holding talks to convince Tokyo and
Seoul to institute a visa waiver program for Russian tourists
who will be in Japan or South Korea for a short period of time.
Director of the Primorye Regional Transportation Department Igor
Khruschev has repeatedly travelled to Seoul in order to discuss
both visa waivers and the possibility of altering the Eastern
Dream's timetable.

8. (SBU) Deputy Director of the Vladivostok Office of South
Korea's National Organization of Tourism Hae Ja Park and South
Korean Consul Ki Dae Kim, however, believe that visa regulations
and inconvenient scheduling will not preclude the DBS's success.
While Park emphasized that Russians enjoy long vacations, Mr.
Kim argued that Russian tourists can easily obtain South Korean
visas. Kim reminded Consulate staff that the DBS ferry line is
in its initial stage; DBS may change its timetable if the ferry
becomes popular.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Poor Infrastructure and High Costs Discourage Tourism
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (SBU) DBS alone will not transform Primorye into a popular
tourist destination, however. General Director of Vladivostok's
"Gavan-Tourcenter" Natalie Kalachinskaya told us services for
tourists have deteriorated in Primorye and hotels have become
more expensive in the region. There are no information centers
for tourists in Vladivostok other than in hotels, she added.
Vladivostok has no five star hotels and only one four star
hotel, the Hyundai Hotel, which charges approximately USD 200
per night for its cheapest rooms. Infrastructure and hotel
service are even less developed in other regions of Primorye
where prospective tourists could find natural wonders and exotic
animals like the Amur Tiger. Asian tourists find better
services, infrastructure, and prices in Southeast Asia and China
than in Primorye.

10. (U) In preparation for the 2012 APEC Conference, however,
Vladivostok has planned numerous infrastructure projects,
including the construction of new hotels. Lotte, Marriot
International, and Accor have signed declarations of intent to
build hotels in the city. The GOR is also funding the
construction of a USD 1 billion bridge between Vladivostok and
Russkiy Island, the summit's beautiful locale.

-----------------------
Accentuate the Positive
-----------------------

11. (SBU) According to Park, infrastructure alone will not
transform Primorye into a tourist destination. She pointed out
the region lacks the stadiums, hotels, and tourist
infrastructure found in South Korea and Southeast Asia.
According to Park, Primorye officials need to highlight the
region's distinctive attractions in order to distinguish it from
other tourist destinations. As Hasegawa informed us, Japan
"lacks natural havens that the hands of man have never touched."
According to Hasegawa, Russian tourist companies have failed to
research the needs and tastes of Japanese tourists and therefore
have underestimated Japanese interest in eco-tourism.

12. (U) Primorye officials have, however, approved a plan to
open a "Safari Park" that will feature the wild animals of the
Ussuriysk Taiga. In addition, Kalachinskaya, discussed creating
a "Russian Village" for tourists in Primorye in order to teach
foreigners about life in the Russian countryside. Although this
plan has not yet materialized, analysts support such plans that
promote "eco-tourism" in Primorye.

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Comment
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VLADIVOSTO 00000093 003.2 OF 003

13. (SBU) The DBS Ferry Line's low prices and amenities could
promote tourism between the Russian Far East, South Korea, and
Japan. If successful, the DBS may also force other ferry lines
to improve their services. The launching of the DBS ferry is
only one step in a broader effort, however. Primorye officials
must do more to improve tourist infrastructure and further
promote eco-tourism if the region is to be transformed into a
popular tourist destination.
ARMBRUSTER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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