Security companies from all over the world are competing for contracts to protect new holiday resorts in Russia’s restive North Caucasus.
The tenders have just been submitted. Thus far, there are two big security offers coming from France’s Thales company and Israel’s Elbit Systems.
Thales promises to cover the North Caucasus with a “security dome” that will embrace all the resorts to be built. The French also propose to concentrate on a quality threat-reaction system that will help deal with crises.
Other proposals include a high alert on the territory’s boundaries aimed at ensuring that no arms, drugs or radioactive substance can cross the border. The company also plans to introduce tight control over the most vulnerable infrastructure and transportation assets.
The French specialists say the most difficult aspects of dealing with the North Caucasus is its open borders, vast territory and the need to hide the security measures from vacationers. The key to success, they believe, is cooperation between police forces, emergency services, military and civil organizations and special services. Thales has substantial experience in tackling security issues in Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico.
Elbit Systems’ method is based on the vast system of measures Israeli police have been using for decades. Those include a wide net of human and technical intelligence, up-to-date technologies and police forces. The specialists argue that such a system allowed them to prevent the majority of terrorist attacks in Israel.
The Caucasian tourism sector says both approaches could be used: while the French company could be made responsible for security inside the tourist zone, the Israeli firm could protect the resorts’ borders.
“Such resorts are in demand in the North Caucasus, and there are people who want to work for them,” said Akhmed Bilalov, head of the Caucasus tourism sector. “Security issues are now the state’s responsibility. The resorts’ destiny will depend on how well the state will deal with these security issues.”
The state has set aside $50 billion to develop tourism in the turbulent region. Five ski resorts will spring up in the Caucasus mountain range with the help of the French investors Caisse des Depots et Consignations state bank.
The project will be carried out over the next decade. It is expected to create about 300,000 jobs in the region. Tourism specialists say the region has the potential to give even the most popular European resorts a run for their money.
“The skiing season there lasts longer than in Europe – sometimes till the end of April. It has slopes for different categories of skier, from beginner to professional,” Maya Lomidze, executive director of Tour Operators Association, told RT. “But the complete lack of infrastructure makes quality tourism there impossible. If the French manage to recreate here at least half of what attracts tourists to the French Alps, the demand will be huge. The only condition required here is to provide safety for the tourists.”
This past May, the presidents of Russia and France signed a memorandum creating a tourist cluster in the North Caucasus to be developed by both Moscow and Paris. Austria joined the memorandum in June.