Work Ends on Passenger Port
Published: June 1, 2011 (Issue # 1658)
Yekaterina Kuzmina / Vedomosti
City Hall hopes the new passenger terminal will help to increase the number of tourists visiting St. Petersburg.
The new Marine Facade sea passenger port was officially handed over to the city government last week after the final construction work was completed.
St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko was handed a symbolic key to the port on the city’s birthday last Friday.
Marine Facade is the first specialized passenger port in Russia to conform to international standards. Its construction is aimed at making St. Petersburg a major center for international cruise tourism.
“This port is a dream gift for St. Petersburg,” Matviyenko said at the official ceremony.
“Transport accessibility is one of the major factors for success in tourism, and this port will help us make St. Petersburg an even more attractive destination,” she said.
Matviyenko said that when the city relaxed visa requirements for cruise ferry passengers visiting St. Petersburg, the number of tourists immediately shot up.
Vadim Tyulpanov, speaker of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, said that in 2009, there were around three million visitors to St. Petersburg per year. After the introduction of a new rule in May that year that allows tourists arriving by cruise ship and ferry to stay in the city for up to 72 hours without requiring a visa, that number rose to five million in 2010.
Tyulpanov said that constructing a port of its size at first seemed impossible, especially since in order to include the site within the city’s limits, Vasilyevsky Island had to be artificially increased in size by 400 hectares of reclaimed land.
“This is the biggest and most secure sea terminal in Russia,” Tyulpanov said.
According to official statistics, the number of passengers embarking at the port rose from 248,000 in 2009 to 368,000 in 2010, and the number is expected to reach 440,000 this year.
City Hall hopes the new passenger terminal will help to increase the number of tourists visiting St. Petersburg and thus increase revenue to the city budget. The terminal is equipped to accommodate the most modern passenger ships.
The port was constructed using the principles of a public-private-partnership. The federal budget paid for the dredging work, construction of the approach canal and the reconstruction of the Petrovsky channel. It also financed the opening of border checkpoints at the port and the setting up of navigation equipment.
Private investors financed the construction of the terminal, the docks, the navy stations, the port operations center, roads and engineering infrastructure.
Construction began in 2006 and was completed in three stages. One cruise ship terminal and two docking points were launched in 2008; in 2009 and 2010 three more docking points began operating, and last month, all seven docking points of the port were completed.
Total investment into the project amounted to 18 billion rubles ($643 million), including ten billion rubles of private financing and eight billion rubles of state money.
The port can receive cruise ships and ferries of up to 311 meters long and nine meters deep.