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Association of Hotels of Ukraine promotes tourism
At the end of 2005, the Association of Hotels of Ukraine celebrated its 15th anniversary. Mykola Yevdokimenko, an energetic business promoter, was instrumental in setting up this Association, of which he remains director general.
Mr Yevdokimenko was interviewed by Viktor SYDORENKO.
Mr Yevdokimenko, what was the purpose of setting up such an association?
In the soviet times, the hotels in Ukraine were under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Communal Services. In 1990, the Ministry was disbanded, but no other government organization took over. Something had to be done urgently and an association of hotels and of hotel conglomerations was created in Ukraine to take care of the hotels and hospitality business.
But who initiated the creation of such an association?
I was the one who initiated it. At that time I was head of a department of the Ministry of Communal Services Ч by 1990 had been working there for fifteen years. I had been involved in providing accommodation for athletes who came to the Soviet Union to participate in the Olympic Games in 1980; I had also taken part in providing the refugees from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster area with places to live atЕ Originally, there were only 11 hotels which joined the Association, but now we have 179 members.
Are there only hotels in your Association?
Not only. In addition to the hotels, among which we find the best ones in Ukraine, the members of the Association are the Kyiv University of Tourism, Economics and Law, the Kyiv National Trade and Economics University, the Academy of the Housing and Communal Economy in Kharkiv, and other educational institutions. We work in an excellent cooperation with them in the research, personnel training and employment. Specialized, tourism-oriented facilities are also members of the Association.
Are there any foreign members?
Yes, there are Ч from Bulgaria, Switzerland, Belgium and Turkey. New members keep joining.
Do you maintain any contacts with similar associations in foreign countries?
Yes, we do. The strongest contacts are with Russian hoteliers. Among the recently established contacts are those with Belgian hoteliers. Also, we are planning to hold a seminar jointly with Bulgarian hoteliers. In 2004, we held a seminar jointly with Polish hoteliers in the city of Lviv, and organized a tourist exhibition. 53 directors of Ukrainian hotels went to Poland for training, and 34 Polish hoteliers came to Ukraine to visit some resort towns and spas in western Ukraine, Truskavets and Morshyn among them. We are planning to hold similar events in 2006 Ч the Polish hoteliers are asking for it.
What kind of problems does the hospitality business in Ukraine face?
We need to keep building new hotels. A country like ours has to have 16 hotel beds per one thousand of population, if we want to comply with the international standards. We have only 6 Ч and their quality leaves much to be desired.
A ten-year plan of hotel development is being carried out in Kyiv Ч there will be five new five-star hotels built, plus many hotels of other categories. We have good rates of guest accommodation provided by hotels in Kyiv. Arguably the best hotel in Kyiv, a five-star Premier Palace, has a seventy-five percent rate, and it is considered to be a good average. But there are hotels of lower categories with low guest accommodation rates. The situation will change if Kyiv starts receiving a greater number of regular tourists, rather than pop stars or rich businesspeople.
Are there any achievements in the past fifteen years that you would like to mention?
Right from the start, the Ukrainian hotel business found itself under a great tax pressure, with many of the taxes having no real justification Ч 20-percent hotel tax, plus the value added tax, plus the land rent, plus the heating billsЕThe hotels had a very hard time surviving, and the prices they charged were exorbitant. For seven long years we kept trying to get some of these taxes abolished, and at last our efforts were crowned with a considerable success Ч the hotel tax was abolished by a parliament decree with the absolute majority of the MPs voting in favour of abolishing this tax. The hotels now have better opportunities for renovation, and the number of guests they receive grows annually by 15 or 20 percent. One of our hotels, Premier Palace, provides services that meet the top world quality standards. Recently we held a workshop at that hotel to which we invited managers and directors of other good-quality hotels, and after the seminar we organized a guided tour of Premier Palace for them. I think it was a helpful experience for them.
Our Association managed to get rid of the difference in prices for foreign tourists and for local tourists Ч higher prices for foreign guests and lower prices for Ukrainian citizens. This difference in prices had been a shame of our tourist business and we are happy that a law that took care of it was passed.
Any other achievements?
We have been publishing Hotelny i Restoranny Biznes Magazine (Hotel and Restaurant Business) for five years now; we have released several annual catalogues, Hotels of Ukraine from A to Z, and many hotel reference books.
The Association takes part in organizing the Hospitality Industry exhibitions. The latest such exhibition was attended by 34 companies from many countries of the world. These exhibitions are held to coincide in time with UITT exhibitions. This year, it will be held at the International Exhibition Centre in Kyiv, March 29 through April 1.
We also run a regular hotel contest, the winners of which receive prizes and support of the local authorities. Among the winners were the Natsionalny, Kyiv, Premier Palace and Rus Hotels in Kyiv, the Dnipro Hotel in Cherkasy, Bryhantyna in Kherson, Bristol in Yalta.
Have you, as head of the Association, received any prizes?
Yes, I have Ч certificates of appreciation and other prizes from Verkhovna Rada, Presidential State Affairs Department, the City Hall, and the Academy of Construction. Incidentally, I am a full member of the Academy of Construction, and recently I was promoted to the membership of the Academy of Tourism. IТve collected quite a few of such prizes over the years. For me they are good evidence that my work is appreciated.
Photos have been provided
by the Association of Hotels of Ukraine