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City news, 21.11.2003 17:33

Hotel Investors Staying Away, Saint Petersburg Admits

Hotel Investors Staying Away, Saint Petersburg Admits 'Despite all the measures taken by the previous city administration, the expected inflow of major investments for hotel construction has not materialized to justify them,' Vice Governor Aleksandr Vakhmistrov said at a meeting Thursday in Smolny. Many lots proposed for new construction or reconstruction, he said, are 'swamped in legal complications.' At the same time, he emphasized, 'the required effort to clear away legal tangles (obligations to former owners) has been absent.' Furthermore, Vakhmistrov said, investments have been hampered by the long time needed to recoup hotel investments-on average 10 years. This factor is dependent on tourism agencies. 'So far, the best known tourism firms are avoiding the Petersburg market,' he said.

In the opinion of Anna Skoroglyad, chair of the city Tourism and Resort Development Committee, 'the foreign investor holds off not only because a site is legally entangled but because it is someone else's.' 'If we want to attract the big foreign investor, title to the land has to be cleared and sold,' she said.

Other factors cited in holding back hotel investment: choice of sites and the technical impossibility of bringing some structures up to modern hotel standards. Nikita Yavein, chairman of the city's Committee for the Preservation of Monuments, said: 'For all our committee's liberality toward investors, the latter are most hesitant about reconstructing historic buildings as hotels.' 'A great deal too much space in our baronial ruins went into space that cannot be directly used for hotel rooms, meeting rooms and corridors,' he said.

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