Club Gulag: tourists are offered prison camp experience
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Published: 04 August 2006
The Mayor of what used to be one of the most infamous outposts of Josef Stalin's Gulag wants to charge masochistic foreign tourists £80 a day to "holiday" in an elaborate mock-up of a Soviet prison camp.
Igor Shpektor, the Mayor of Vorkuta, 100 miles above the Arctic Circle and 1,200 miles north-east of Moscow, says he is looking for an investor to turn an abandoned prison complex into a "reality" holiday camp for novelty-seeking tourists keen to understand what life was like for Soviet political prisoners at first hand.
His idea, which has upset survivors of the prison camp, envisages recreating a tiny part of the Gulag complete with watchtowers, guards armed with paintball guns, snarling dogs, rolls of barbed wire, spartan living conditions - and forced labour.
It may sound a far cry from a week at the beach but Mr Shpektor is convinced that there will be no shortage of takers. He wants to charge tourists between $150 and $200 (£80 to £106) each day, and for them to commit to a minimum three-day "holiday".
"The town needs money and we have the possibility of turning Vorkuta into a tourist region," he told the daily Novye Izvestia. "The chance of living in the Gulag as a prisoner is attractive to many wealthy foreigners, something they have told us themselves.
"A whole trainload of people turned up in autumn last year wanting to go to such a concentration camp, for money. People from America, Australia and Poland." It wouldn't all be stylised suffering, he added, as tourists would have the chance to fish and hunt for game.
posted by Steve @ 12:35:00 AM