September 27 is a worldwide Tourism Day. The purpose of the festival is promotion of tourism, coverage of its contribution to the International community's economy and development of relations between the different peoples. General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization proclaimed the holiday in 1979 in Torremolinos, Spain.
Since 1980, the World Tourism Day is dedicated to a certain topic, and since 1998 some particular country symbolically hosts the feast. This year's Tourism Day has the slogan "Accessible Tourism".
The Head of the Ukrainian Association of Tour Operators Ihor Golubaha told in an interview about the main touristic trends in Ukraine.
How to develop domestic tourism in Ukraine?
“On the one hand, today’s economic situation in Ukraine, unfortunately for the tourism workers, is forcing people to save, in particular, on vacation. And the most accessible and close vacation for Ukrainians is the one within their own country. In recent years, a lot of Ukrainians went on weekend tour in a radius of 100-150 km away from the house to the various historical monuments or parks.
And now the number is even bigger as even more people, unfortunately, can not afford a vacation abroad, and therefore choose local vacation. They go to the seaside, to the Carpathians, Transcarpathia and Pre-Carpathian regions, to Khmelnytsky, Vinnytsia and Ternopil. They are all interesting from the tourist point of view, so more and more local businesses and bodies are trying to attract tourists to their cities.”
Where do the Ukrainians go abroad?
“If we talk about mass tourism, most Ukrainians go to Turkey and Egypt, especially in the summer. This year, Turkey won the first place, because in the beginning of the tourist season, Russian tourists left the country, as well as the Germans and the British, and others. Turkey has provided a very interesting 30-40% discount on the hotel for the Ukrainians, which allowed Turkey to win the first place this year and to receive at least 30% more profit. Unfortunately for us, these delicious offers are over because Russian tourists have again returned to Turkey, and in this regard, Turkey will no longer hold such attractive prices for us.
Apart from Turkey and Egypt, Ukrainians visited Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, and Poland to rest. And such countries as Greece, Spain or Italy always have their fans, and some people still can afford it.
From which countries tourists come to Ukraine?
“In the last two years, of course, the number of tourists has decreased dramatically. Especially in 2014. Last year, the number of tourists slightly increased, and this year as well, the hotels have already seen the growth. For example, as of today, the workload of hotels in Kiev, in some cases reaches 65-70%.
Due to the opportunity to obtain visas for the Chinese right at the airport, many citizens of this country began to visit Ukraine. The Russian market has collapsed due to the military conflict, although a small number of Russians still go to Ukraine. Koreans, Turks, Italians, Spaniards and tourists from other countries come to Ukraine as well.
Which city is the most interesting for the foreigners?
“Of course, it is Kiev, Odessa and Lviv which is the closest, say, to Poland. The foreigners do not only visit the eastern regions, for obvious reasons.
Now, for a week or two, about 50 thousand Israelis are arriving to Uman, which is a sort of a "Mecca" for them.”
How to attract more foreign tourists to Ukraine in your opinion?
“If we had legislation interesting for the investors, providing a return on investment, as well as some grace periods, then more and more hotels would appear, which must result in decrease of accommodation prices and service improvement. We also need to build good roads. If we had a well-developed infrastructure, more tourists would come. The country needs to understand the importance of tourism and its social significance, because the government does not allocate any funds to promote Ukraine as a tourist state abroad.”
How can we motivate Ukrainians to traveling within the country?
“I think we need not even motivation but the professional development of tourism as an industry, which involves construction of new hotels and improving the service provided on the basis of competition. And all together will give the positive results and more Ukrainians will travel around their own country.”
Reportedly, Ukrainians now visit other resort towns on the coast of the Azov and Black Seas instead of the occupied Crimea.