Today, Crimea is a region of the Russian Federation with underappreciated investment opportunities. Of course, the region’s economy is largely developing due to public funds, but the amount of private investment is also on the rise. According to the Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea, total investment in the Crimean economy doubled compared with 2017 and amounted to RUB 130 billion, while private investment amounted to roughly RUB 75 billion. This figure will continue to grow going forward.
I believe agriculture and tourism are key areas for investment. In agriculture, we are seeing an increase in production each year: winemaking companies are planting new vineyards and new enterprises are emerging. The number of tourists is growing as well, and with the opening of a new airport in Simferopol and the Crimean bridge this year, there are even more opportunities to comfortably travel to Crimea. Hence the demand for new tourism facilities: health resorts, recreation and retreat centres, and hotels. A striking example is Mriya Hotel, which opened in 2014. It has been actively developing since that time and has turned into a large-scale world-class complex with a huge number of services for its guests. It is always 100% full now during the holiday season. I am sure there will be a lot more examples of this kind and we will see a strong additional spurt in the tourism sector in the near future.
In terms of economic development, Crimea is currently lagging behind other Russian regions: the carryover from the Ukrainian period is having an effect, but this means that there are available niches in almost all industries. Plus, there is also a free economic zone with conditions that are unique to Russia. Obviously, the region has enormous potential.
Of course, any business that wants to develop in Crimea inevitably faces the question of sanctions. To some extent, this deters potential investors, both Russian and foreign. But there are numerous mechanisms that allow for getting around this issue. Not a lot of people talk about them, but numerous people know that [some companies] register branches not in Crimea, but in the Russian mainland and some act incognito. There are also those that do not pay any attention to sanctions at all.
There is business interest in the region, and it will continue to grow. This is evidenced, for example, by interest in the Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF), which originated from our company. The first forum was attended by 600 people, while there were more than 2,000 in 2018. Special mention should also be made about the number of foreign participants: there were 34 people from 13 countries in 2015, more than 200 from 46 countries in 2017, and up to 500 foreign participants from 50 countries in 2018. This demonstrates the interest among Western politicians and businessmen and the opportunities for establishing business cooperation with the region.
We can fully expect the same dynamics to continue in the future. Today, the Yalta Forum is Russia’s main platform for demonstrating the investment opportunities and investment potential of Crimea. And in many respects, the YIEF has helped to develop the perception of Crimea as an attractive region of the Russian Federation with good prospects for business development, both among the Russian and the international business community.