This paper focuses on the process of tourism development at Baikal in the competitive field of ecological and economic priorities. The crucial development factors for the Baikal region as a world-level tourist destination: a rapid development of the global system of international tourism, a critical need in the sector for new territories with a high natural-recreation potential as well as the foreign-policy and domestic-economy conditions facilitating domestic tourism development in Russia. Critical indicators of development of the territorial tourism system are pointed out, among them the volume and structure of tourist flows, characteristics of the tourist infrastructure, including the number and capacity of accommodation facilities. Analysis of data for 1974–2014 bears witness to the formation of the Baikal-centered tourism system. The study identified more than 40 zones of recreational development, most of which are concentrated at settlements with a low population size. A characteristic of the land reserves of the Baikal natural territory is provided according to the development potential of the most suitable kinds of recreational activity. It is established that an expansion of the tourism system within the boundaries of the central ecological zone would create the conditions for incorporation of territories at a distance from the shores which have been previously considered promising for tourism.Keywords: tourism, recreational resources, territorial recreational system, Lake Baikal, Baikal natural territory.