The Caspian region has plenty to choose from when exploring past and present civilizations and cultures, historical monuments and the beauty of its natural resources. With unspoilt beaches in the east and west, lush mountain forests in the south, and the majestic Volga in the north, coupled with a mosaic of ethnic origins and cultures, it has the potential to attract thousands of visitors. Yet, the travel trade faces major challenges in the Caspian region. Sustainable tourism is still an unexplored opportunity but inadequate infrastructure, including improper waste management or water facilities, and stress on residential areas hinder growth in this sector. The Iranian part of the Caspian Sea, with its verdant plain and high mountains, accommodates twice its ‘normal’ population in the summer when tourists from other parts of Iran flock to the area. Some residences are set back only a few metres from the water line. In 2007 Turkmenistan approved a contract for Avaza, a huge national tourist resort involving the construction of an island on the shore of Caspian. All these developments pay little attention to the rise in sea level, which continues to be a real threat to the coastal area. Some parts of the region, such as Dagestan, are subject to limitations for security reasons. With an arid or semi-arid climate and difficult accessibility, parts of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan would also face problems in opening up for tourism.
From collection: Vital Caspian Graphics 2 - Opportunities, Aspirations and Challenges, 2012
Riccardo Pravettoni, GRID-Arendal