Tourism can bring new investments, new jobs and significant benefits to local budgets, but first it is necessary to eliminate the existing legal obstacles and to invest into this sector, professional community says.
Ukraine has sufficient potential to make tourism one of the main drivers of its economy. “Tourism should be a national priority for the development of Ukraine. […] It attracts foreign investment, foreign exchange and it is part of the marketing and branding strategy,” stated Gunther Fehlinger, moderator and coordinator of the project UA-EU SME WEEK 2016, at a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. This sector would boost creation of jobs, SMEs and infrastructure development, especially in depressed regions. Growing necessity to attract tourists would result in better services quality and better hospitality culture.
Tourism means benefits for local budgets
Tourist attractiveness of the city guarantees significant income for local budget. For example, said Anton Taranenko, director of Tourism Department at Kyiv City State Administration, the number of tourists from abroad coming to the city has increased by 20 percent over the last three years. In 2015, tourist fee alone brought UAH 13 million to the city budget. Next year Kyiv will host Eurovision and the Champions League, so these figures are expected to be significantly bigger. “A foreigner spends in Kyiv at least EUR 100 per day, so if 25 thousand tourists would arrive for Eurovision and stay here for 10 days, they would bring in EUR 25 million,” he said. To make Kyiv more attractive for tourists, it is necessary to create information centers and to improve the navigation system.
One of perspective sectors is green tourism, or rural tourism. Ukrainian villages have a good potential, in addition, this sector does not require investments. “It is necessary to inform people from villages about this opportunity, so that they could become successful using best practices of those who have succeeded in this business,” noted Volodymyr Vasylyev, chairman of the Union for promotion of rural green tourism in Ukraine. He added that their organization cooperates with the UN Development Program, searching tools to boost green tourism in Ukraine.
It is worth take into consideration a growing interest to individual tourism that has already become a worldwide tendency, said Arseniy Finberg, social activist, founder of “Interesting Kyiv”. Nowadays more and more people prefer to plan the journey on their own. They are not interested in standard tours and prefer unusual programs, such as interactive fancy-dress city tour, running tour or kayak tour, or extreme tours, for example, trip to abandoned Chernobyl.
Achievements of professional community
Professional community has already initiated cooperation between businesses in this field and the authorities, said Tetyana Tymoshenko, chairman of the Federation of Tourism Employers of Ukraine, coordinator of the taskforce of “Ukraine-EU” Civil Society Platform. For instance, now there is advisor on tourism issues in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. An Expert Council on tourism has been created in the appropriate Parliamentary Committee as well as Coordination Council, a body for inter-ministerial consultations on tourism at the Cabinet of Ministers. Professional community has also developed framework for tourism development, framework for promotion of tourist regions and draft laws prescribing that costs received from tourist fees should be accumulated in special funds of local budgets. “The idea is that costs that tourists have paid should be spent on tourism development. These draft laws have been submitted to the Parliament, so it is up to parliamentarians to take the next step,” she said. Volodymyr Vasyliev noted that there is also draft law 2232-а, enlarging definition of what rural tourism is.
Volodymyr Glukhov, project manager of NGO «GoLOCAL», told about the positive experience of Bila Tserkva, a middle-size city in Kyiv region. By common efforts of grassroots initiative, businesses and local authorities a strategy of city development has been created. 30 activists from the professional community participated in project development, 16 of them currently work on strategy implementation. In addition, they organized School for SMEs Development. The next plans are to launch an online-platform for businesses communication and coordination and organize meetings for the same purposes.
Mykola Cherep, owner of green tourism location “Skolynyy Hutir”, head of Petrushivsky Union for promotion of rural green tourism in Ukraine, said that they have managed to organize two museums and a horse theatre, they also partly renovated ancient mansions, however, many things still have to be done and local activists won’t succeed on their own.
Eliminate the legal obstacles
“Tourism is a real driver for the economy, but in order to make it a “driver” the state should take care of it. Efforts of professional community only are not sufficient,” noted Oleksiy Yevchenko, managing partner of ArtBuild Hotel Group company.
First of all, it is necessary to eliminate the existing legal obstacles for businesses and to provide financial support. The Ministry of Finance doesn’t consider that investments into this sector are necessary, said Oleksiy Yevchenko. There are UAH 30 million for tourism development in 2017 budget, this is not sufficient. According to him, additional money could be generated through legalization of gambling industry.
Evgen Demyanov, director of the Department for Products and Marketing for Private Clients at Raiffeisen Bank Aval said that the bank is going to simplify credit granting procedure for SMEs and to introduce guaranteed credits for several profiles of small businesses. At present, the bank is waiting for the Ministry of Economy recommendations on who should be target clients for this program.
Public-private partnership is the best tool to transform the abandoned castles and mansions into spectacular tourist attractions. There is over a hundred of them in Ukraine, said Iulia Gureeva, expert on public-private partnership, Platform for PPP Promotion. At present, the project team of Ukrainian and European experts has been created, the Ministry of Culture has already listed the objects for a pilot PPP project, including a famous castle in Pidgirtsi, Lviv region. “We will prepare investment packages for every castle. We will calculate investment capacity and tourist capacity, this roadmap will be presented to the state authorities, investors and the society, and after that the implementation will start,” she noted.