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Academician Mykola Yevdokymenko, 80-year-old “patriarch of hospitality industry”
Academician Mykola Yevdokymenko, 80, is chairman of the Board and director general of the Association of Hotel Unions and Hotels of the Cities of Ukraine; he is a recipient of many awards and a full member of the Academy of Construction and of the Academy of Tourism of Ukraine.
Mr Yevdokymenko, who is respectfully referred to as “the patriarch of hospitality industry”, was interviewed by Yuliya Hresyk.
Mr Yevdokymenko, you have surely achieved a lot in life. How did it all start?
My achievements have come somewhat unexpectedly both for my kin and for me. It’s not too often that someone who was born in a village becomes an academician. Incidentally, I was not a very good student either. I finished school before the war (WWII) and worked at a collective farm. In June 1944 I was drafted and served in the Navy. I was a sailor on the cruiser Chervony Kavkaz. In August 1951 I was discharged from the Navy and I found myself in the Crimea. It was in the Crimea that my work in the tourist business began. In 1965, I became head of the Crimean Council for Tourism and Excursions. Incidentally, I studied by correspondence at the Kharkiv Institute of Jurisprudence, so I am a lawyer by education. I kept rising through the tourist business ranks. In 1980, during the Olympic games that were held in Moscow, I was in charge of accommodation of the athletes who came to take part in the Olympics. Right after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station disaster in 1986, I was put in charge of finding accommodation for those who were being evacuated from the areas affected by the radioactive fallout. In August 1990 I was promoted to head the Association of Hotel Unions and Hotels of the Cities of Ukraine.
What was the main purpose of establishing the Association?
It was established with the purpose of coordinating the hospitality business activities and protecting the rights of the participants. The membership of the Association kept growing and now we have over 200 members — hotels and organizations connected with the hotel business — but we started only with 11 members.
What are the main directions of work of the Association now?
Promotion of hotel business. We provide legal support and help in privatization and setting up joint-stock capital. We provide help in solving matters that concern buying hotel equipment and other necessary things for hotel and tourist facilities, we keep contacts with foreign companies, we organize training abroad and in Ukraine.
What would you like to mention among the things that have been done by the Association?
We have been instrumental in organizing and holding international hotel exhibitions in Ukraine, annual conferences of representatives of hotels and restaurants in the hospitality industry. We provided information about the best hotels to encourage progress. We promoted the establishment of the Department of Construction of Tourist and Hotel Facilities at the Academy of Building of Ukraine. In 2003, we had, after many years of trying, the 20 percent hotel tax abolished. Our efforts help increase the number of tourists coming to Ukraine by about 15 to 20 percent every year.
We have been publishing a journal, Hotelny i restoranny biznes (Hotel and Restaurant Business) for seven years now, we publish catalogues, Hotels of Ukraine and Hotel Guides.
The work done by the Association has been praised by hotels and tourism-connected organizations and by the state.
You are a recipient of many awards and prizes. Can you say a few words about them?
I don’t think I should describe them in detail but there are more than a couple of dozens of them. And I am proud of being a full member of two academies. It feels so good to be needed, to be someone who is sought after — it is a great incentive to work. Prizes and awards are secondary.
At your age you are full of energy and vigor. Do you have any secrets that help you being in such a good shape?
One of the secrets is careful planning of your activities for every day. I keep a close written account of all my engagements and things I have to do on a particular day. I never forget to do whatever has been planned to do. As far as my energy and vigor are concerned — that’s the way I was born! I think if I retire I won’t be able to live long. I belong to the category of people who have to be working all the time, who can’t live without active work. At the rare moments of idleness at home, all I think of is when I go to work again.
Mr Yevdokymenko turned 80 on December 24 2007. We join in wishing him many happy returns of the day and preserving his vigor for many years to come.