Sovkomflot, a state-owned shipping company in Russia, said it would invest as much as 9m rubles (US$280m) in building a new marina complex in the port of Sochi on the Black Sea. Construction is expected to start in February 2011 and be completed within two years.

The project will include a 250-yacht marina, a four-star hotel with convention center, and shopping center. A second phase will include a new luxury hotel and office building.

The company is looking for co-investors while it will manage the marina. The project is part of a larger reconstruction of the Port of Sochi to boost the number of visiting yachts and cruise ships. Vladimir Derkunov, director of Port of Sochi, told The Moscow Times that the port expects to receive 160 to 180 cruise ships a year by 2020.

But Artur Grokhovsky, an editor at Boats and Yachts magazine, told the paper that customs rules for Russian yacht owners, many of whom keep their yachts in Turkey or Crimea, will have to change. “Two weeks ago I went out to sea in Sochi, and it took six hours to get the permit. Border guards came to inspect the yacht,” he said.

Grokhovsky also said that the marina is likely to be comparatively expensive because of the cost of construction. The Black Sea coast has no natural bays that can be used to moor yachts, so the company will have to build expensive breakwater protection around the marina. One meter of a breakwater would cost from 750m to 800m rubles, he said.