|A TEAM OF COMMITTED WORKERS IS A PREREQUISITE OF SUCCESS|
|From Mr. Tsybukh's CV:
Born: March 9, 1951 (under the sign of the Pisces).
Education: Graduated from the Kyiv Engineering and Construction Institute and later from the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
Career: Work at a plane-building factory; a secretary of the Komsomol organisations, from a college to the Ukraine's Komsomol Central Committee; a Deputy (MP) of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) and of the USSR's Parliament (1989; 1990); diplomatic work as a representative of Ukraine in Russia (1992-1994); the First Deputy Head of Kyiv Administration; the Deputy Minister of Transport of Ukraine (1995-1997); President of the Automobile Federation of Ukraine; Head of the All-Ukrainian Union of Property Owners; from May 25, 1998 — Head of the State Committee of Ukraine for Tourism (Derzhkomturyzm).
Government awards: Eight medals.
Knowledge of foreign languages: Rumanian, English.
Family: Wife Inna (an architect); daughter Olena (a manager); son Sashko (an elementary school first grader).
Favourite places: Native land of Bukovyna.
Life values: Family; work; friendship; spiritual and material well-being; good health; successful career. Mr. Tsybukh most often referred to in the media as: “everlastingly young.”
Motto: “The one who shoots at the past with a handgun, sooner or later will get shot at by a battery of field guns from the future.”
Editor-in-Chief of Welcome to Ukraine Magazine Olexandr Horobets talked to Valery Tsybukh recently about the state of things in the tourist industry of Ukraine.
The State Committee of Ukraine for Tourism had to work
for quite some time without a Head. There was also a
period of time when the Committee had its Head changed
every so often. You’ve been holding the post of the
Derzhkomturyzm Head since May of this year. Have you come
to stay or is this post just a stepping stone?
Tsybukh: Right after I was appointed to the post of the Head of the State Committee of Ukraine for Tourism, I warned the Committee’s employees: “I’ve come to stay for a good many years.” Tourism must become a profitable industry, therefore it must be treated in all seriousness. We need a collective effort to boost the tourist industry. If we at the Derzhkomturyzm manage to bring together a team of hard-working, committed workers, then we’ll succeed.
And you are going to form such a team, aren’t you?
Tsybukh: By all means. There’s a good team getting formed in the Government, and in our Committee we are having a good team brought together. We have submitted our proposals to the Cabinet of Ministers as to the changes in the Derzhkomturyzm dealing with its new status and its wider responsibilities and rights. The Derzhkomturyzm will take care not only of tourism as such but will also work at developing the tourist industry along the new lines with a full set of branches developed at the same time.
Horobets: Could you be more specific, please?
Tsybukh: All right, take the present situation in tourism. Not a very comforting situation, I’d say. Health and rest centres — and there are over three thousand of them! — sports and tourist centres, the roads and the whole transport infrastructure, plus a lot more that is part of the tourist industry, are all of them functioning within the systems of different ministries and departments. No wonder there is little co-operation among them. Their work must be co-ordinated, the available facilities must be assessed and compared with the world standards, and after all of this has been done, we can work out a programme of their development. The Derzhkomturyzm is an organisation that is geared to do what is needed.
Horobets: A committee for dealing with youth, sports and physical culture issues has been created in Parliament. What are your relations with this committee? A successful development of tourism depends, evidently, on good relations with all the branches of the executive and legislative bodies.
Tsybukh: So far, our relations can be described as good. One can regret though that this Parliamentary Committee does not have a word “tourism” in its name. We have discussed many important issues with the Committee’s representatives. We have held a conference, attended by Members of Parliament, scholars, and experts in tourism and experts in local conditions, history and economy. We have forwarded to Parliament our suggestions as to the changes and amendments we think should be made in and introduced to the Laws On Tourism, On Insurance and On Taxation System. We hope we’ll be able to do a lot thanks to legislation initiatives launched by the Parliamentary Committee. Today the main task of the Derzhkomturyzm is to provide tourists with better services, to support tourist agencies and companies and at the same time to keep their interest of Ukraine in focus.
Valery Tsybukh and Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, former Communist Party leader, discussing problems that the young people of Ukraine were facing in the seventies.
The child to the left is Valery Tsybukh, the future President of the Association of Property Owners of Ukraine, with his Granny; his brother Anatoly is to the right (1956, the village of Krasnoyilsk in the land of Bukovyna).
|The leadership of the World
Tourist Organisation of which we are a member has advised
us not to follow the example of those post-socialist
countries which have completely done away with the state
control of the tourist industry and because of that have
lost a lot.
Horobets: Does it mean that you will support the state-run agencies rather than the private companies?
Tsybukh: No, today it would be impossible. Many radical changes have occurred in our life in general and in the tourist industry in particular. 93 percent of tourist agencies and companies of Ukraine are privately owned and only seven per cent are run by the state. We have to take care of all of them, both state-run and private, provide equal conditions for all. When we are talking of creating an information-advertisement system for tourist needs, we are not planning to have it totally subservient to the state. We want tourist companies of all sizes to be able to have an access to such a system, to use advertisement materials the way they want and need. The main thing is not to control but to provide the legal, organisational and information backing.
Horobets: Is anything being done along the lines of ensuring the tourists customers’ rights?
Tsybukh: Yes, we are planning to establish a special “insurance reserve” at the Derzhkomturyzm. The funds of the reserve will be used to reimburse tourists for losses incurred as a result of some unforeseen situations for which these tourists are not to blame.
Horobets: Government officials have kept declaring tourism to be a priority industry. Does the present government intend to develop tourism? Do you have any government backing?
Tsybukh: I’ll begin with telling you that the government has adopted the programme of Development of Tourism up to the Year 2005 and thus has shown its serious attitude to tourism and its development. Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma has appointed me to my present post on the advice of the prime minister and this fact, I hope, will serve as a good motivation for the government to give the Derzhkomturyzm its support. Several months before I came to work at the Derzhkomturyzm, I turned to prime-minister Valery Pustovoitenko with requests to help with a number of issues and all of them were received positively.
Horobets: There are some problems our tourism has been facing since a long time ago and some have remained unsolved. Which of them your Committee is going to deal with in the first place?
The biggest of them is the pressure of the taxes. Take,
for example this paradoxical situation: the value-added
tax must be paid by tourist companies not only for the
services provided in Ukraine but also for those that are
provided by our partners abroad. I’ll be honest with
you — this tax makes some of the tourist companies
start using not quite legal ways of operating. Some
companies advise their customers to pay for the tourist
services when they arrive at their destination abroad.
Others turn for help to Russian tourist companies, which do not have to pay the value-added tax, and a lot of money from Ukraine goes to Russia. We are doing our best to solve this problem. Recently we’ve turned to the Cabinet of Ministers for help. Things seem to have started moving. Another problem - a very high cost of tourist vouchers. There are many reasons why they are so expensive, one of them -- tax on land. That is why we are trying to get it eased for some resorts and rest centres in Ukraine. In order to regulate the prices and bring them in correspondence with the quality of services, all the hotels and restaurants must be issued proper certificates indicating the level of services they provide.
We also have to introduce a set of responsibilities that tourist companies must have. Today organisations of any kind can go into the tourist business but it’s wrong. The proper way is as following: if you want to go into tourist business you must deal only with tourism and nothing else. Unfortunately, under the present conditions, in order to survive one is forced to work in several businesses. Besides, we do not make a proper distinction between the functions of a tour operator and tour agent. The former must work out new tours and tourist plans and the latter must put them into practice. If it is not done this way, no amount of licences issued will help better the tourist services. The cost of Ukrainian entrance visas is a problem too. It is so high that no wonder the Europeans prefer to go to Turkey where they have to pay only ten dollars for visas whereas a Ukrainian visa costs upwards of seventy dollars.
Chornobyl, the year 1986.
Few days after the nuclear power plant disaster.
As you see we have a
lot of problems to tackle. The root of all these problems —
underestimation of the role of tourism in our society. A greater
awareness of the importance of tourism and its potential must be
spread throughout society. There is no exaggeration in saying
that such countries as Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey flourish
thanks to tourism.
Horobets: Do you see any new lines of development for the tourist industry?
Tsybukh: One of such lines is likely to be the creation of a tourist infrastructure along the highways of Ukraine. According to the World Tourist Organisation’s estimates, Ukraine has a very big tourist potential. China, Brazil and the countries that gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union are in the same high tourist potential category. We can expect a big influx of tourists, particularly those who travel by cars. Nine transport corridors have been planned for Europe and four of these corridors will go through Ukraine. So, we’ll need to have our roads mended, gas stations, motels and camping sites built, in other words a lot has to be done to bring our roads to world standards.
Another line of development of tourism is the creation of free tourists-recreation zones. Such zones are already being created in the Crimea and in Western Ukraine: in Zakarpattya, in Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts.A special tourist fee, which every foreign tourist coming to the city of Moscow has to pay for the development of tourism in the capital of Russia, is an interesting idea and we plan to introduce it in Kyiv. If every foreign tourist arriving in the city of Kyiv pays, let’s say, one dollar, it is not a big expense for him or for her but it could be a valuable contribution to the development of tourism in the capital of Ukraine.
Turkish representatives show interest in the development of tourism in Ukraine. 1998.
What will Ukraine get out of the developed tourist
Tsybukh: A lot. We are losing so much because we do not have a developed tourist infrastructure. Turkey, for instance, receives only a slightly higher number of tourists than Ukraine but gets three times more money than we do. Why? Because tourists have a lot more opportunities to spend their money in a manner they find useful. Besides, the creation of a tourist infrastructure along the roads of Ukraine will create about a million jobs and of course, the motorists will find it convenient.
Horobets: But the air routes are no less important than the roads. To have a flourishing tourist business one must have convenient flight schedules. Can tourist companies hope for coordination of their work with the air companies?
I know that soon there will be some changes in the leadership of
the State Aviation Administration which works within the system
of the Ukraine’s Transport Ministry and hopefully we’ll work
out a co-operation basis acceptable for both sides. I have good
relations with the Transport Minister Ivan Dankevych. I know the
work of our civil aviation well and we’ll have our work
properly adjusted with them.
Horobets: If you don’t mind, say a few words about yourself. Some people will say: look, a person without any special tourist education or wide tourist business experience, has come to head a tourist committee. Will he be able to cope?
Tsybukh: There are no professionals yet in Ukraine who would be able to head a government branch in spite of the fact that thirteen colleges train students in tourism-oriented programmes. But there are a lot of similarities in leading industries of various kind, you should agree with that. And in tourism, besides actual travelling and the rest of it, there are a lot of other things that one has to know about and be able to deal with them. I believe any post like mine needs a person who has had a considerable life experience and wide experience of organisational work. I used to work in the Transport Ministry and the issues it deals with are directly related in many respects with tourism. I used to deal with young people and the young like to travel. I’ve not discovered anything so far that would be quite unfamiliar to me except for several specific tourist terms. And last but not least, I feel a great deal of support given to me by my colleagues at the Derzhkomturyzm, by heads and deputy heads of the departments. People are willing to help me to get into the thing as fast as possible. Incidentally, many people working now in the Derzhkomturyzm, worked with me in the sphere of tourism specializing in the services provided for the young people.
You worked in Komsomol bodies, you were a Member of
Parliament, you worked in the Kyiv City Hall. A long
working career but mostly of the officialdom kind. Will
such kind of working experience not interfere with your
Tsybukh: Well, I can say this. After the meeting of the Council of the World Tourist Organisation (WTO), of which Ukraine is a member since last year, I have initiated the introduction of a tourist statistical system based on the one used by the WTO. This system is used all over the world and we can correctly assess our place in the world tourist hierarchy and our potential. Our next step — integration into the international tourist market. Unfortunately, the importance of this step is not fully realized by those who carry out the market reforms.
In the cabin of the latest make of Airbus at an air show in Berlin.
They say that
tourism is a hen that lays gold eggs but without a proper
statistical system you can’t keep a good count of them. Last
year Ukraine received about 8 million tourists and tourism
brought almost twenty per cent of the foreign trade turnover (in
other words of export) of Ukraine. But the statistical data
concerning tourism are so difficult to find since they are given
within those sections that concern culture, transport.
Horobets: As far as we know, Mr. Tsybukh, you are a state official, and at the same time the President of the Automobile Federation of Ukraine, Head of the All-Ukrainian Union of Property Owners. Is the status of an official occupying a high post compatible with promoting private ownership?
Tsybukh: In your question lies an answer to your other question about my contribution to the tourist industry. Combining the state and private sectors of the economy happens to be the slogan of this year’s World Tourism Day.
Once I heard a joke: you, Mr. Tsybukh, have in your hands things movable and unmovable. I want to draw your attention to the fact that both the Federation and the Union are non-profit organisations. People are not indifferent to what is happening in the field of car servicing and car manufacture, the interests and problems of property owners must be looked into as well. The organisations in question have among its members representatives of thirteen political parties and associations of Ukraine and they have an opportunity to lobby the interests of their members in parliament and in the Cabinet of Ministers.
In the USA, 1987.
What’s the situation with tourist facilities?
Tsybukh: There are several hotels in the Crimea whose construction has not been completed. We are concerned about it. That’s why we have decided to hold an Investment Forum in the Crimea as part of the International Tourist fair Ukraine’ 98. We have invited foreign and Ukrainian businessmen to take part. The Forum will deal with projects of building new hotels, camping sites and other facilities. Today in Kyiv you can already purchase time-shares in the Canary Islands, so why can’t foreigners and citizens of Ukraine buy time-shares in the Crimea.
Could you say a few words about restoration of the architectural
landmarks in Ukraine?
Tsybukh: Architectural landmarks are big tourist attractions and a programme of restoring, or actually rebuilding a number of landmarks, destroyed in the thirties and during the World War II, has been worked out. In the city of Kyiv the Church of Pyrohoshcha has been built at the site of the church that used to stand there before its destruction by the Soviet authorities. The Mykhailivsky Zolotoverkhy Monastery is being rebuilt. The bell tower has been already consecrated and its chimes can be heard marking time. The rebuilding of Uspensky (Assumption) Cathedral of the Lavra Monastery is to start soon. The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery is a true treasure house of art and at the same time a sacred place for the Orthodox Christians.
Horobets: In October of 1998 Kyiv played host to the International Tourist Fair Ukraine’98 and your counterparts in foreign countries may be interested to know about it in more detail.
Tsybukh: The prestige of this event, which has become a regular feature in Kyiv, is growing. This year we had over 450 tourist companies participating in the Fair. Many tourist companies from Great Britain, Spain, the USA, Poland, Turkey, Germany, Egypt, Bulgaria and Cyprus have already become regular participants of the Fair. We are glad that we’ve managed to have all the regions of Ukraine represented. The foreign guests were particularly interested to learn about the tourist potential of Kyiv, Lviv, Zaporizhia, the Crimea, the Carpathian Mountains area, the Volyn area, the Khersonshchyna area and the Odesa area.
We hope that the Ukraine International Travel & Tourist Exhibition to be held in Kyiv May 14 through 17, 1999, will also be a success. The Ukrainian participants which will be among the organisers of the exhibition, have shown themselves to advantage at the four previous exhibitions and we feel confident they’ll cope nicely this time as well. We’ll support an initiative to have a special programme for foreign tourist operators called “Discover Ukraine.” We hope foreign tourism experts will be impressed with a high tourist potential of Ukraine.
Horobets: Speaking of potentials, I know that your native land of Bukovyna has a very considerable tourist potential. Now that you occupy such a high post, will you still remember your Bukovyna?
Tsybukh: How can I forget it? My parents still live there. They worked as village teachers all their lives. In spite of the fact that Kyiv is far away from Bukovyna, I’ll do what I can for my native land. Incidentally, I head an inter-department commission set up to concern itself with the creation of a free economic-tourist-recreation zone in the Chernivtsi Oblast of which Bukovyna is a part. Yes, Bukovyna is a land of paradisiacal beauty. But it does need a developed tourist infrastructure to have tourists coming in great numbers.
Horobets: Now that you know the ropes, the tourist ropes as it were, are you going to pull them to get things done the right way?
Tsybukh. Sure I will. Hope you’ll help me. A team effort, you know, is a sure way to success.