TOURISM AND RECREATION
The main natural treasure of the Yaroslavl Region is the Volga River, on which stand a number of ancient Russian towns.
The total number of local historical and cultural monuments is over 5000, the most ancient of them being the Pereslavl-Zalesskiy Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral erected in 1152.
Dating back to the 15-16th centuries are such architectural monuments as the Assumption Cathedral in the Rostov Kremlin, the Appanage Princes' Chambers in the Uglich Kremlin, the Yaroslavl Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral, the Rostov Abraham's Monastery, the Pereslavl-Zalesskiy Nikitsky and the Trinity-Danilov Monasteries and many others.
Lots of monuments that the Yaroslavl Region boasts of are real masterpieces of the 17th -century architecture. This period known as "the Yaroslavl Renaissance" saw the construction of such ecclesiastical buildings as the Church of St. John-the-Baptizer with its spectacular frescos second to none in the number of plots depicted, the Korovniky Temple Ensemble, the Church of St. Ilya-the-Prophet, the fine specimen of the famous Yaroslavl School of architecture and many others.
Each of the Yaroslavl Region's historical towns has its own unique character manifested in rather original festivals, which attract lots of visitors from all over the world. Among such cultural events are the Rostov European Cultural Heritage and the Winter Fairy-Tale Festivals, the Uglich Children's Prince Dimitry Festival, the Myshkin Mouse and Valenki Festivals, the Pereslavl-Zalessky Peter’s-the-Great Assemblies, the Rybinsk Merchant Day to name just a few.
Theatres are very popular in the Yaroslavl Region. More than 20 theatres, of which 5 are professional, are located in the region. Among them is the first Russian national theatre - the Yaroslavl Academic Drama Theatre named after F.G. Volkov founded in 1750, the Yaroslavl Young Spectator's Theatre and the Yaroslavl Puppet Theatre. The cultural life of Yaroslavl is also ornamented by organ concerts in the Regional Philharmonic Society Hall.
Tourist industry has been developing in the Yaroslavl Region for about 100 years. Steamboat communications along the Volga River in the 19th century eventually led to an influx of tourists. To satisfy the tourists' needs in excursions the Young Life Society was established and in 1909 the first Russian tourist magazine "The Russian Sightseer" was published in Yaroslavl, as well as numerous guide-books.
Nowadays more than 140 tourist agencies function in the Yaroslavl Region. The number of tourists is constantly increasing. In 2006 more than 900,000 tourists including about 300,000 foreign visitors from France, Germany, the USA, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands and other countries visited the Yaroslavl Region.
Various types of cultural tourism, such as visiting museums, attending special events and exploring ethnographic aspects of the Central Russia are developing rapidly. Business and congress tourism are also on the increase. The Yaroslavl Region provides all the services necessary to organize national and international events of all levels.
Construction of the Universal Cultural and Sports Complex "Arena-2000 Lokomotiv" and the Centre for Skiing and Recreation “Demino” as well as victories of the local sport teams have given impetus to sports tourism into the Yaroslavl Region.
More and more entertainment and recreation facilities, such as casinos, bowling and billiards clubs, arcades and fitness centres are being launched in the Yaroslavl Region at present.
Educational, recreational, ecological and health-improving tourism are on the increase too and the scope of tour offers and applications for such tours is broadening.
The last few years have also seen the establishment of Alpine and cross-country skiing tracks facilities offering high quality services and stimulating development of sports parks capable of organizing both winter and summer entertainments.
Yachting is among the most rapidly developing local sports. Facilities for technical maintenance and refueling of river vessels are being established in Yaroslavl and other towns on the Volga. A number of cutters and a small motor-ship are available for rent. Among the most popular kinds of recreation is the so-called "quiet hunting after the gifts of nature" – picking mushrooms, berries and herbs.
Over the last years the local tourist infrastructure has developed considerably. At the tourists' disposal are more than 40 hotels and an extensive network of cafes and restaurants. Yaroslavl alone has more than 100 cafes and restaurants catering for Russian, European, Caucasian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The roadside service system along the Moscow-Kholmogory Federal Motorway featuring petrol stations, cafes, telephones and hotels is rapidly developing.
The rapid growth of the tourist industry has attracted investments in the hotel network development. At the moment more than 15 hotels are at the design phase or are already under construction in the Yaroslavl Region.
Tourist attractiveness of the Yaroslavl Region is enhanced by the local tourist agencies' participation in international exhibitions, publication of tourist guides and Internet advertising.