On Sept. 27 Ukraine celebrates together with the rest of the planet World Tourism Day. Ukraine's potential in the tourism and recreation industry, together with its abundance of vacation resorts, is right up there with the most frequently visited countries in the world. The expansion of international contacts is opening up new windows of opportunity for bringing the country's tourist industry as a viable productto the global market and capitalizing on the experience of leading tourism organizations around the world.
Ukraine has concluded bilateral agreements on cooperation in the tourism industrywith 28 countries on different continents. Joint inter-departmental committees on tourism and inter-government committees on economic and scientific cooperation further the execution of such agreements and the setting up of working groups on tourism within their framework.
An important component of international contacts is institutional cooperation. Accordingly, Ukraine is emerging onto the global arena of tourism through direct participation in the activity of international organizations. The possibilities of exploiting the financial and organizational mechanisms of international bodies for enhancing the economic efficiency of the national tourism industryare limitless.
In October 1997, at the 12th session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization held in Istanbul, Turkey, Ukraine became an official member of this organization.
Two years later, in September of 1999, Ukraine was elected to the World Tourism Organization Executive Councilat the body's 13th session in Santiago, Chile. This governing body is responsible for formulating global tourism policy, actively influences its realization and controls budget processes. The inclusion of Ukraine in the organization's executive council has strategic significance, as the possibilities of using the body's mechanisms for enhancing Ukraine tourism industry can be expanded on the backdrop of globalization. In particular, this will help to promote Ukrainian tourism on the world market, increase proceeds to the country's national budget, and introduce the latest innovative technologies and leading methods of training and skill enhancement of personnelworking in the tourism industry in compliance with international standards.
Once the celebration of World Tourism Day in Ukraine was marked by the visit of Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Francesco Frangialli. His first visit to Ukraine was when Frangialli participated in the international seminar New Information Technology in Tourism held within the framework of the Ukraine-2000 VII International Tourism Exhibition. The agenda of the visit by the secretary general to Ukraine included official visits with senior-level government officials, a ceremonial reception at the National Philharmonic, and participation in the closing ceremony of a two-day international seminar Rural Tourism: Recommendations for Development in the Carpathian town of Yaremche in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.
Frangialli's visit was truly a major event for Ukraine and was testimony to the country's prospects and future of its tourism industry. Indeed, the secretary general made some very flattering compliments about Ukraine at the ITB-2003 tourism exhibition in Berlin. Specifically, Ukraine was represented at a separate stand for the first time in all the years the exhibition has been held and Frangialli was quick to point out that Ukraine's exposition was one of the most interesting and eyecatching. Unofficially, the Ukrainian exposition took 6th place out of 181 participants in the ratings of the exhibition's organizers. Frangialli highly praised Ukraine's participation in ITB-2003 and noted that the country's tourism industry had seen dynamic growth due to the support of its government.
It is noteworthy that the tourism industry accounts for 10.9% of gross product in the world.Ukraine today is showing average world indicators with an aggregate income from tourism (which includes 50 sectors) of around 10% of GDP. The country's potential in this sector, however, can be multiplied by 2-3 times.
In terms of infrastructure, Ukraine offers 4,500 vacation resorts with a capacity of 620,000 people, from hotels to sanatoria, bed and breakfasts and camping grounds. To make the rest of the world aware of this, the National Tourism Board is actively promoting Ukraine abroad. Besides the abovementioned exhibition in Berlin, presentations have been made in Geneva, Moscow, Kazakhstan and other cities and countries around the world. The results are impressive with a total of 12.3 million foreign tourists visiting Ukraine in 2002.
On the legislative side a revolutionary decree was signed On Certain Measures for Development of Tourism and Recreation in Ukraine. According to this document, border guards and customs officers are drafting measures aimed at the gradual introduction of a non-visa procedure and a simplified procedure for processing visas for foreign citizens crossing the Ukrainian border for tourism purposes.
In accordance with the decree, the Ministry of Economy and National Tourism Board are drafting a bill that should stipulate the introduction of mechanisms stimulating the construction of new sites and the renovation of existing sites in the tourism and recreation industry.Specifically, this will be done via incentives for long-term financing of construction and reconstruction of accommodation or living quarters used for rural «green» tourism.
Today tourism in Ukraine is taking steps forward. New routes are being built and it's been understood that tourism is a sector of the economy that works towards the development of the economy and culture in the country. Today we must take a serious approach to this sector at a government level. According to the Program of the Development of Tourism proceeds from the tourism industry should reach coonsiderable sum of money. Prospective figures have not gone unnoticed by investors.
In conclusion, development of Ukrainian tourism has a profound effect on such sectors of the domestic economy as transport, trade, communications, construction, agricultural and production of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).Truly, tourism today is one of the most promising sectors of structural rebuilding of the national economy,one main reason why World Tourism Day is not just a holiday for employees in the tourism industry and tourists themselves, but for all Ukrainian citizens.