Russia hopes Sochi has long term popularity
In broad terms, Sochi's current moment in the global spotlight during the Winter Olympics will be brief. But Russia hopes its grand plan for its most southwestern city will endure.
It's the next step beyond the opening ceremony themes Russia hopes to carry through the games - the self-portrayal of a country rich in history and ready to be world class. Sochi's new facade was built from swampland amid all kinds of criticism - environmental, labor, political abuses to go along with graft - yet its developers see it as not only a city, but a destination.
Top-tier sporting events like Formula One racing, soccer and, of course, all sorts of winter sports. Regular cruise stops, a Disneyland-like theme park and all kinds of supporting infrastructure, including 12,000 nearby hotel rooms.
"We are looking forward to active Russians coming to our area," said Dmitry Kozak, Russia's deputy prime minister.
The optimist's projections: doubling tourism to 6 million visitors per year and creating 600,000 jobs in the arenas, hotels and other supporting businesses, including construction.
The vision sounds like early plans for other resort destinations built from scratch on less-than-desirable land, like Macau and Las Vegas, with a classic build-and-they'll-come philosophy.
"The legacy plan for Sochi infrastructure is solid and profound," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief executive of the Sochi 2014 organizing committee. "There will be no white elephants."
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