The Russian town of Chelyabinsk, which was recently struck by a meteor, is looking to use its newfound fame to boost its tourist industry.
The town in southern Russia, east of the Ural Mountains, has well and truly been placed on the map by the event, which brought worldwide news coverage and scenes more commonly associated with sci-fi and disaster movies.
Although the meteor injured approximately 1,000 locals and caused damage to buildings in the city, the intention is to capitalise on the event by bringing tourists into the area. Regional tourism office Natalia Gritsay said “Space sent us a gift and we need to make use of it. We need our own Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty.”
Preliminary ideas include a “Meteor Disneyland”, a yearly festival to commemorate the event, and a floating pyramid with a beacon at its point that marks the place on the lake where the meteor crashed to Earth.
Tour providers have been quick off the mark, with one local tour company, Sputnik, having already organised two tours of the area for Japanese tourists, while the local Chelyabinsk museum has installed a display housing a meteorite alongside clippings from international news coverage of the event.
It appears that Chelyabinsk will not be passing up the opportunity to promote itself following this unexpected moment of fame. We may not have heard the last of this “meteor city”, as it looks to cash in on the burgeoning Russian tourism boom.