Russia is opening a new tourism centre in Franz Josef Land, a remote Arctic archipelago.
The announcement comes in response to the growing demand for adventure tourism above the Arctic Circle. A visitor centre located on Guker Island, one of the largest in the archipelago, will open on August 30 to mark the 90-year anniversary of a research station built by Soviet explorers on the island in 1929.
In 1937, an Arctic observatory headed by famous explorer Ivan Papanin was opened on the site. The archipelago shares a name with New Zealand's South Island town, both being named after Franz Joseph I, a 19th century Emperor of Austria.
The Silver Explorer cruise ship is currently making its way across the Northern Sea Route, and its arrival will coincide with the opening of the centre. The luxury vessel is carrying 144 tourists who have each paid €33,000 (NZ$57,000) to make the voyage from Nome, western Alaska, to Tromsø in Norway.
An outdoor museum is currently under construction, and six buildings have been renovated. Tourists will be able to stay overnight and book longer-term stays, as well as observe local research activities.
"The popularity of visits to the Arctic is growing year by year and therefore it is necessary to create attractive conditions for guests," said Alexander Kirilov, the director of Arctic National Park.