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The Carpathians Ч tourism and investments

 

The social and economic changes that Ukraine has been going through in the past few years have prompted the accelerated development of new branches of market economy. One of these branches is tourism which has been recognized at the government level as a highly important business.

 

A joint Ukrainian-Polish project, The Tourist Potential of Western Ukraine, was launched in mid-2002. It was financially supported by the Polish-American-Ukrainian Cooperation Initiative Foundation. The project which was to explore the directions and possibilities of investments to be put into the Ukrainian tourist industry with the Polish experience in this sphere being taken into account, was worked out by three research centres at the Warsaw Institute of Tourism, The Lviv National Ivan Franko University and the Kyiv Tourism, Economics and Law University. The local authorities of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattya Oblasts were and continue to be actively engaged in this project.

Within the project, the first inventory of the tourist infrastructure of these three Oblasts was carried out. This stock-taking showed that the region made up of these Oblasts, has a considerable health-improvement and rest potential (242 health-improvement and rest establishments and facilities which accommodated almost a million people in the past three years) as well as wide possibilities for mountain skiing.

Marketing research (which was based on comprehensive statistical data) conducted in the region showed that there was a continuous trend in the growth of the number of people who came to the region to rest and improve their health (10.8 percent growth in 1999Ц2002), in the number of tourists, both foreign and Ukrainian (in the past four years Ч 37.7 percent increase in the number of Ukrainian tourists, and 61.7 percent in the number of foreign tourists), and the growth in the amount of services provided (55, 603.27 thousand-hryvnya worth of services were provided in 2001, and 65,139.2 thousand in 2002). Polls conducted in the Carpathian region among the people who stayed at health-improvement and resort centres, rest homes, mountain skiing and visited culture facilities showed that the majority of the respondents considered the potential for improving the quality of services provided and the variety of services as being quite satisfactory, but at the same time they found that the information and entertainment structure were not yet up to the mark. Neither was the transportation infrastructure found as being adequate. The survey also showed that the Ukrainian tourists were becoming more demanding as far as the quality of services was concerned. Tourists wanted to see more possibilities for recreation, entertainment and accommodation created Ч there should be more hotels of various standards and other places, including private homes and country houses in the countryside, where one could stay the night.

The surveys conducted within the project included 47 Raions (administrative divisions of the Oblasts) and cities and towns, regional centres among them (14 towns altogether). The method of analysis used (which was worked out by the Warsaw Institute of Tourism) made it possible to determine the investment and tourist attractiveness. 57 quantitative and qualitative indices were used to assess the technical, tourist and communal infrastructure as well as natural resources and cultural heritage of the chosen areas and towns from the point of view of their ability to attract investments and tourists.

For each of the areas (into which the whole region was subdivided) studied and analyzed, the most advantageous tourist product was marked as the most attractive for investors, and the most attractive sites for investments and development designated. The local authorities and tourism experts supplied their own suggestions which were then carefully studied. Hotels, motels, rest homes, culture centres and mountain-skiing facilities were found to be particularly attractive for being invested in.

The surveys and analysis made it possible to create a map of possible investments which reflects the tourist development potential of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattya Oblasts, with the most attractive tourist products assessed as to the level of the support provided by the available tourist infrastructure.

The land of Lvivshchyna is a region with inviting prospects for the development of tourism and recreation; it is among the best, in this respect, in Ukraine. Lviv Oblast is the 4th in Ukraine as to the number of tourists visiting it Ч 120,000 in 2002. The Oblast has 6 resorts, 2 national parks, 123 health-improvement establishments, 65 hotel establishments and facilities. Lvivshchyna is a region whose historical and architectural landmarks are in the best state of preservation in the whole region. In 1998, Lviv was put on the UNESCO cultural heritage list.

In 2002, the Programme of the Development of the Health-Improvement-Resort Sphere, Tourism and Rest in Lviv Oblast for the Years 2003-2007 was worked out. УThe borders of EEC countries are coming ever closer to Lvivshchyna. We receive a growing number of foreign tourists and that is why we are creating the conditions necessary for attracting large investments which would contribute to the development of the tourist sphere in our region. Annually, we offer a number of attractive projects that can be invested in by all those who would like to make some money on the tourist potential of Lvivshchyna. Among particularly attractive projects is The Zolota Pidkova Ukrayiny (Golden Horseshoe of Ukraine) tourist route that takes tourists to ancient castles; investments would help build hotels, cafes, and country houses along this route. Another attractive project is to revamp a hotel in the vicinity of the chateau in Pidhirtsi, Hetmansky Zayizd, the oldest among the hotels of Ukraine which dates from the 18th century, and turn it into a three-star European-style hotel. Another interesting project Ч a reconstruction of a castle in Zolochiv and turning it into a restaurant,Ф said Andry Klymashevsky, Head Of The Board of Resorts and Tourism of the Lviv Oblast State Administration.

As of September 1 2003, the foreign investments into the economy of Lvivshchyna totalled 280 million US dollars, with 50 millions going into tourism.

The investment map was officially published and demonstrated at the 3rd International Economic Forum in early October 2003.

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