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Oleksandr Taryanyk: “I encourage you to explore the Crimea”
Oleksandr Taryanik, who has been at the head of the Ministry of Health Resorts and Tourism of the Crimea and knows the state of things in the tourist business, welcomes tourists to the Crimea, which is always hospitable, warm, exciting, and full of good cheer.
Mr Taryanik has been interviewed by Yevhen BUDKO, senior editor of Mizhnarodny Turyzm Magazine.
What place does the Crimea occupy in the Ukrainian tourist industry?
The Crimea comes second after Kyiv in the overall rating of services provided for foreign and Ukrainian tourists. In the Crimea itself, tourism is a number one priority — about half of the revenues comes into the Crimean budget from tourism. Over 40,000 people work in the Crimean hospitality industry.
What does the last year’s statistics say?
5.2 million tourists visited the Crimea last year, and though it was more than in 2004, we had expected a greater number. The thing is that with every tourist season, the tourists’ requirements for better services increase, and our Ministry carries out modernization, restructuring of the funds, improvement of health facilities, training of the personnel and introduction of new services.
Which countries supply the biggest number of tourists?
Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Great Britain and Israel, but last year 67 percent of all the tourists were Ukrainians, our own “home” tourists.
Does it mean that the number of Russian tourists has dropped? If so, why?
A considerable number of Russian tourists preferred to go to Krasnodarsky Krai in Russia and to Turkey. It is very difficult for the Crimea to be competitive in the price and quality category, particularly after the zero value-added tax on tourist services was changed into 20 percent value-added tax in April 2005, and it raised the prices.
Last year a simplified visa-issuing procedure was introduced for the citizens from the EU countries, Switzerland, USA, Canada and Japan. Did it lead to the increase in the number of tourists?
It was something new for Ukraine in general but not for the Crimea — back in 2002 we established a procedure of visa issuing for foreign tourists right on arrival at the airport in Simferopol. A visa to the Crimea costs about 30 Euros. This measure did help increase the number of tourists but the effect would have been much greater if the world community were more informed about such things. Unfortunately, Ukraine spends almost nothing on advertisement of its tourist attractions abroad.
What about the Crimea? Doesn’t it promote foreign tourism on its own?
We do. In fact, we are probably the most active in it among other popular tourist attraction regions in Ukraine. The ministry does work at creating a positive tourist image of the Crimea and advertises its tourist potential. Crimean tourist companies, under the ministry’s patronage, take part in international exhibitions which are held in Kyiv, Ukraine; St Petersburg, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Poznan, Poland; Prague, the Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; Istanbul, Turkey; Tel Aviv, Israel, and London, GB.
Last year, shortly before the MITT exhibition was held, within the framework of the Days of the Crimea in Moscow, a tourist workshop and a conference were held too. Also, last year we organized a visit of a number of Russian and Ukrainian journalists to the Crimea who were taken to various resorts and sights, and in general, we regularly organize tourism promotion tours for journalists. In October 2005, the Third Tourist Salon Crimea All the Year Round was held in Yalta, at which tourist companies and facilities advertised their winter programmes and tours. The Yalta-Intourist Hotel in Yalta is the venue of international fairs such as Crimea. Resorts. Tourism and this March this fair, which was held for the fifteenth time, actively promoted tourism to the Crimea. The ITB Berlin, the International Tourism Exchange, the biggest of its kind in the world and the UITT, the biggest tourist exhibition held in Ukraine have the Crimean sections which do a good job of promoting tourism to the Crimea.
What kind of investments do you get into the Crimean tourist industry?
In the years 2000–2005 the capital investments into the resort and recreation complex amounted to 134.6 million US dollars, with 35.03 million dollars invested in the first half of 2004. Yalta, Symferopol, Alushta and Yevpatoriya get the most substantial investments. Out of 40 tourism-related projects that are to be carried out with the general budget of 624.3 million dollars, 33 are already running.
The four-star Oreanda Hotel complex is being reconstructed; an aquapark in Simeiz is being built; new amusement centres are being built in Yalta; the Krymski Zori rest home, the More rest home, the Myhdalevy Hai resort and recreation complex, and the Albatros Sanatorium are being built or reconstructed. The Palmira Palace and Terletsky hotel complexes have been recently opened. We are planning to build a new health-improvement centre, Aquapark in Yalta and sports and health-improvement centres with golf facilities and swimming pools in Sudak. A cosmetology and rehabilitation centre is being reconstructed in Alushta, and a yacht facility is being built there.
Companies from which countries are the biggest investors?
The biggest investments come from the Russian Federation, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Great Britain, Cyprus, the USA, Uzbekistan, Switzerland and Latvia with a share of about 88 percent of all the investments into the Crimean tourism industry.
As far as the well-known international hotel chains are concerned, they have indicated their interest but have not yet invested into any projects yet. The main hindrance here is the Ukrainian laws which are not conducive to the development of the tourist business and lack of the firm state guarantees.
What are the plans for the spring tourism?
The number of tourists sharply increases in early May for the period of state holidays and we are getting ready for the influx. The number of tourists who come in their cars and the number of pilgrims are also on the increase. A growing number of people go to the holy places, churches and mosques in Symferopol, Sevastopol, Feodosiya, Bakhchysaray, and Yalta.
What about the summer tourism?
We shall offer new services, new tourist attractions, new kinds of tourism and new routes — mountain climbing, visits to archaeological sites and military centres, yachting trips, surfing training, visits to wine centres, equestrian sports, and even such things as camel rides. Incidentally these camel rides enjoy a growing popularity.
Any changes in the prices?
They will unfortunately keep growing. We can’t help it — the prices for fuel, gas, and food products grow and consequently tourist prices go up as well.
Most of the tourists come in the warm seasons to stay by the sea, don’t they? But I’m sure the Crimea can offer much more than the beaches on its southern shores.
Of course! We have mountains and natural preserves, plus a lot more. There are over three hundred places of interest and of great scenic beauty that are the greatest tourist attractions all the year round. There are many caves that a growing number of people want to explore. We have excellent opportunities for developing all kinds of tourism — speleology, mountain climbing, hiking to mention just a few — in all the seasons of the year. Hunting is also growing in popularity, and in off-seasons we offer hunting for all kinds of small and big game. Hunters can be accommodated at hunting lodges in tourist bases situated in picturesque places with full board, if they so desire. Incidentally, Italian hunters have been coming to the Crimea in considerable numbers for several years now. Short visits during the state holidays have also grown in popularity, and for such tourists, among other things, shows with pop stars participating are organized. In addition to all that, Ukrainian and foreign companies hold seminars and workshops at the Crimean resorts all the year round.
Some tourists come to the Crimea with vouchers purchased beforehand which confirm that they have paid for their stay at this or that rest home, sanatorium or hotel, others start looking for accommodation only after they arrive in the Crimea. What is the percentage of those with vouchers to those without?
In 2004, about a million people came with vouchers, and about four and a half million without them. During the tourist season, all the rest homes and sanatoria are fully booked and those without vouchers have to look for accommodation in private homes. But either way, it’s important for us that tourists come and pay for the services, accommodation and food, and thus contribute to the Crimean budget. There are already 480 small private rest homes which have been registered with the local authorities and which pay taxes. But most of the tourists, without vouchers purchased before they come to the Crimea, stay at the private houses and apartments of the locals and we are taking steps to get the locals pay tourist taxes.
Is green tourism a growing business?
The Crimea has so much to offer — the natural preserves, the sea, the plains, the mountains, historical and architectural landmarks. Four years ago the Association of Promoting Green Tourism was set up. In September 2005, the 2nd European Green Tourism Congress was held in Yalta. It was organized by the European Federation for Farm and Countryside Tourism under the patronage of Mr Gunter Verhoigen, EU Executive on European Union Enlargement, and with the support from the Ministry of Health Resorts and Tourism of the Crimea and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine. The Congress was attended by 700 participants from more than 20 countries. I think it reflects the growing attention we pay to the development of green tourism.
Is there anything among the tourist services that has not yet been fully appreciated? Something that you think should be promoted more?
Diving. Qualified instructors provide instruction and training, and once you master the technique of diving and get the certificate, you can explore the exciting underwater world. If you are lucky, you can even discover an ancient shipwreck. You can shoot videos or take pictures… Also, in the Crimea there live people with a hundred different ethnic backgrounds and that means there is a great potential for ethnic tourism. Tourists are welcome to learn more about the traditions, customs and the way of life of all these ethnics.
Is there a place in the Crimea that is your favourite?
There are many such places — Bakhchysaray and the palace of the khans there; nice, cozy places of Kermen and Finaros not far from Bakhchysaray… The Crimea offers so much to explore that even if you come to the Crimea every year, you’ll always find something new to explore. And I never stop doing that. As a minister and as a person who loves the Crimea I encourage you to do the same.
Welcome to the Crimea!
5 solid reasons to visit the Crimea:
• It is one of the most picturesque places in Eastern Europe.
• It has beautiful natural sites, architectural and historical landmarks.
• It provides excellent conditions for health improvement thanks to the combination of the salubrious air, sea and mountains.
• It offers reasonable prices.
• It can be visited any time of the year.
There are three distinctive climatic zones in the Crimea — the steppe in the north, the mountains and the southern coast, protected from the northern winds by the mountains, where the mean temperature in January is + 4o Celsius, and + 24o Celsius in July, which makes it subtropical of the Mediterranean mild kind. The combination of the mountain and sea air provides superb conditions for health improvement and treatment.
The Crimean resorts can be subdivided into those that provide health improvement thanks to their climatic conditions (they are located in the area known as The Old Crimea), climatic plus balneology (Yalta and Alushta); climatic plus balneology and therapeutic mud baths (Yevpatoriya, Feodosiya and Saki). Each of these resorts has its own microclimate, sources of therapeutic mud, vegetation that kills noxious bacteria, plus, of course, the sea and wonderful beaches.
There are over 11.5 thousand historical sites and architectural landmarks in the Crimea. They have come down to us from various epochs, civilizations, ethnicities and religions. Cave monasteries, fortresses, and shrines make up an impressive list. There are 6 big state-protected natural preserves, 33 smaller preserves, 97 natural sites of a particular scenic beauty in the Crimea. There are over 100 sources of mineral waters of different kinds in the Crimea; the Crimea also has considerable resources of therapeutic mud. Yevpatoriya in the west of the Crimea is known as a major resort catering for children; Saki, Feodosiya and Sudak offer balneological treatment.
Sites for potential investments
Additional information at the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism of the Crimea
Tel.: + 38 0562 544-600; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The offshore Golden Gate at Kara-Dag.
The ruins of an ancient Greek city.
One of the facades of the Vorontsov palace,
A moody moment of the fickle Crimean nature.
The quay in Yalta.
The Genoese fortress in Sudak.
The Romanov Palace in Livadia.
The Khan Palace in Bakhchysaray.
One of the recently restored churches
A sunset in the Crimean Mountains.
One of Sevastopol’s war memorials.
The panoramic painting of the Battle of Sevastopol.
A cozy gazebo in one of the Crimean parks,
One of the many wonders of the Crimean Mountains — Red Cave.
Miles of sunny beaches stretch along the southern Crimean coast.
A bizarrely shaped rock in the vicinity of Bakhchysaray.
A plateau in the Crimean mountains.
A place to stop and rest