The majority of experts agree that Ukraine has made a positive impression on foreign guests, who came to Euro-2012 matches. It does not mean everything is perfect - there are still certain flaws in the culture of servicing or in hotel prices - but in general, the guests left satisfied. The level of preparation was also appreciated by UEFA President Michel Platini, who especially pointed out the hospitable welcome, proper organization of fan-zones and well-coordinated work of the public transport.

Leaving the country many foreigners swore they would come back and would bring their friends and relatives. ForUm decided to find out whether the fans have fulfilled their promises and how it influences the tourist market of Ukraine.

According to the happy fans

The tournament allowed us to show the country to the best advantage to not only Europeans, but other foreigners as well: host cities welcomed Indians and Chinese, South and North Americans. All these people saw for themselves that Ukraine is capable to extend a warm welcome, president of the Tour Operators Association of Ukraine Iosif Andrik says. The matter concerns not only the high level of tourist services, volunteer work or other 'organized manifestations', but also hospitality of ordinary people, who were helping with great pleasure.

According to the numerous feedbacks, instead of a troubled post-soviet country, where "it is always gloomy and bears walk the streets" - as American movies usually feature all eastern Europe - the foreigners discovered a nice modern country with rich culture and history, hospitable people and tasty cuisine. "No surprise that even before the end of Euro-2012 the hotels were already booked for August and later," Andrik says.

Tour operators and centers in Kyiv and other cities record the increased inflow of European and other foreign tourists. "They come with a list of places to visit and often stay in the apartments of familiar Ukrainians. Before Euro-2012, the figures were different, now we have up to 200 foreigners every day! They come with families and kids, or just in couples," administrator of the guest information center Karina Krasnogorova says.

Tourists admit they decided to come to Ukraine after having read media reports about beautiful and cheap Ukraine in their national newspapers.

In addition, many tourists like our climate - despite the heat, the weather is not so much exhausting as in South Europe. The majority of guests plan to visit the same places - Lavra, Sofia Cathedral, Pirogovo. Almost everyone wants to get to the Chernobyl NPP. "August-September is a vacation period for foreigners, hence we expect even bigger boom," Krasnogorova adds.

One level up

What are the figures of the expected boom? Andrik notes that after Euro-2004 in Portugal the tourist inflow increased by 50% and after Euro-2008 in Austria and Switzerland - by 30%. According to the specialist, "in our case the expected figures are 40% growth, about 2 million foreign guests."

The state agency on tourism believes that the year results will be positive, and the amount of tourist services will have grown at least by 50% by the end of 2012.

Head of the department Olena Shapovalova says it will continue the tendency started in 2001, when the tourist inflow in Ukraine increased by 20% and brought 9.8 billion hryvnias.

According to her, the championship has improved the very structure of the tourist sector, including service and culture. Now the tour operators maintain the achieved level, enjoying reconstructed and modern infrastructure.

At the same time, the experts note that the championship's positive tourist effect is only the beginning. Ukrainian tourist industry needs a specific state program of development in order to reach the full-fledged modern level, Andrik believes. "I am speaking about not a piece of paper with instructions, but a true national tourist product, which must be first created and then promoted at both domestic and foreign markets."

To do so, the authorities must improve the legislation, the expert says. "Our legislation in this sphere does not go with the recommendations of the World tourist organization and does not meet the standards of the European Union. We lag behind the development rate in this sector and consequently become noncompetitive on the world market. To be fair I want to point out that the state tourism agency has already started working out options for the creation of a national tourist product and introducing world norms and standards in this sphere," Andrik says.

However, foreign tourists keep coming to Ukraine, which has already brought billions of hryvnias. If the positive "Euroeffect" is supported by a "national tourist product", our domestic market has all chances to pass to the next level. "The level of services in Crimea still leaves much to be desired, but nevertheless the tour operators have realized the soviet times are gone. Ukraine is a European country and tour operators must work respectively," Shapovalova sums up.

Andriy Boyarunets


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