Voting on the website of the World Travel Awards was suspended until June 15. The award ceremony was to be held in Antalya (Turkey) on June 20, but will also be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Russian Geographical Society participates in the award together with the "Ruskeala" Mining Park. The park was nominated in the category "Responsible Tourism".
“Ruskeala” Mining Park is a tourist complex in the Sortavala region of the Republic of Karelia; a monument of nature, and the history of mining in Russia, Sweden and Finland. Marble, once mined in this hilly area, was used for the facing of St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Winter and Marble Palaces, the Mikhailovsky Castle, and Kazan Cathedral. But by the beginning of the 21st century, after active mining with powerful explosions, the deposit had lost its significance.
Today, the abandoned marble quarry has become a tourist attraction, one of the most visited in Russia. The park has both surface eco-paths and an underground excursion route created with the participation of speleologists of the RGS. The bowels of the park hide the lake, through which runs the only underground pontoon path in Russia that is about two hundred meters long. The park also has ethnography and crafts area, a creative space for opera festivals and live music concerts. A special pride of the tourist complex is the Ruskeala Express retro-train, which connected the city of Sortavala with the mountain park.
World Travel Awards is a kind of Oscar in the field of tourism. The award was founded in 1993. It is awarded annually in more than 80 categories: the best hotels, airlines, tour operators, cities, resorts, and sights.
“Ruskeala” Mining Park is nominated for “Responsible Tourism in Europe”. The resorts of the Azores (Portugal), Costa Navarino (Greece), the “Dark Sky Alqueva” Nature Reserve (Portugal and Spain), as well as the “Norwegian cruise line ”, and the British airline “Virgin Atlantic” are competing for victory with the Karelian park.
"The cooperation between speleologists of the RGS and the administration of the “Ruskeala” Mining Park has allowed us to create a unique speleological, informative site for tourists. In a few years years, the flow of tourists to the park has reached 350 thousand guests a year. Now “Ruskeala” is rightfully considered one of the tourist highlights on the map of Russia. A number of tourist routes running through the park have a quality certificate “Recommended by the Russian Geographical Society,” said Sergey Korlykhanov, director of the Regional Development Department of the Russian Geographical Society. “Responsible tourism’ is particularly developed in the park. This is where the original culture of the Karelian people is preserved, ancient marble quarries are being restored, new year-round jobs are created for local residents. Pedestrian eco-paths, speleological and water routes in the park are created using modern environmentally friendly technologies."
The winners of the World Travel Awards will be determined by open voting on the award website. Voting stopped on April 4 will resume on June 15. Attention: to participate in the voting, you have to register on the award website!