The Cabinet has recently decreed to include tourism into the list of priority sectors of economy to attract investments and create new jobs. Apart from tourism the list includes engineering, agro-industrial complex, housing and utilities sector and transport. All investments projects in these sectors will get certain state preferences, including tax and import duties exemption.

Moreover, the Cabinet has approved the Concept of development of tourism till 2022, which provides for defining tourist specification of regions for effective use of their potential. Thus, according to the vice-PM Oleksandr Vilkul, Crimea should become an all-season resort, not a place for summer vacations only. In turn, industrial regions may develop popular in the West industrial tourism and hold various cultural and musical events. "In this respect, the legislation will be harmonized with the EU norms, and investments will be attracted on the basis of public-private partnership. The initiative also includes such projects as Olympic hope - 2022 and Eurobasket - 2015. Sport events of the world level improve the image of the state and give more possibilities to develop tourism. As of today, tourism contribution to GDP makes only 2.2%, though in the EU it is 8% and even in Georgia it makes 9%. This is the level we strive to reach," the official noted. 
Besides, a sectoral state program, providing for creation of the destination awareness network and improvement of tourists' safety in Ukraine will have been approved by the end of 2013.

More guests

According to the Concept, before 2022 the number of jobs in the sector is expected to grow by 2.5 times (up to one million), and annual tourist flow in the country - twofold (up to 50 million visitors). For the last three full years (2010-2012) the number of guests have increased by 1.1 million people (to 23 million), including 940 thousand visitors, who declared tourism as a purpose of travel. According to the World Tourism Organization UNWTO, with these figures Ukraine holds the 9th place in the European rating; and in 2012 visitors spent $4.8 billion in our country.

Experts note that much of it was owed to the football championship Euro-2012, though Olha Yudenko, vice director on tourism of Pan Ukraine company, believes the main reason of interest lies with Ukraine's rich culture-historical heritage. There are 63 natural reserves, about 5000 various museums, historical and cultural beauty sights in Ukraine, including picturesque Kyiv and Lviv, Crimea and Kamenets-Podolski, the Carpathians mountains and Shatski lakes. "You have places well worth seeing, and you can easily compete on the global market of tourism and investments into tourist sector," Mathias Brandt, project director of the German federal enterprise GIZ, said at the opening of the II Kyiv International Tourism Forum.

For eight months of this year Crimea has been visited by five million tourists, Crimean minister for tourism Oleksandr Liyev informs and adds that the total of six million guests are expected by the yearend. According to the minister, the number of tourists this year has grown by 1.2% comparing to January-August period of 2012, and the winter season appeared to be the most successful for all years of independence: tourist flow grew by 20% comparing to the winter season of 2012, up to 100 thousand people.

Positive dynamics is expected also in Lviv. City mayor Andriy Sadovyi declares that if in 2012 the city was visited by 400 thousand people, this year they expect 1.8 million. Moreover, the mayor promises that the city authorities will continue holding various festivals and shows to attract more visitors and create new jobs. Indeed, Lviv has become rather popular with its festivals of chocolate, cheese and wine, as well as art events and annual book fair. By the way, other tourist centers, like Uzhhorod, Lutsk, Kamenets-Podolski, Odesa, also adopt similar practice. In this respect vice-PM Vilkul notes that culture and common European history are essential components for tourism. "This year UNESCO has included wooden churches of Carpathian region and ancient city Tauric Chersonese into the World Cultural Heritage List. Moreover, this December UNESCO might include Ukraine's Petrykivka painting into the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage."

And, of course, there is Kyiv. This year the capital expects up to 1.7 million foreign tourists. Last year, though, visitors numbered 2.8 million, mainly owing to Euro-2012, and according to the ratings by Tripadvisor tourist portal, last year Kyiv held the first place in Europe and the third in the world as the most popular destination.

In total for eight months of this year, 26.15 million hryvnias of travel duties have been collected countrywide, which is 10% more in annual term. By the yearend the Ministry for income and duties expects to collect up to 45 million hryvnias (UAH 38.4 mln in 2012).

To do list

So, what do we need to do to develop national tourism sector? Firstly, we must work on realization of declared plans and programs, head of the All-Ukrainian association of tour operators Ihor Golubakha believes. "The adoption of the Concept of development of tourism till 2022 proves that the government takes tourism as a budget revenue generating sector. What is important is that this Concept does not remain declared on the paper, but is realized," the specialist says.

He agrees with the authors of the Concept that now we should focus on promoting tourist possibilities of the country. "Ukraine's cities keep improving their positions in world ratings, and much of it is owed to Euro-2012, when foreigners saw us as hospitable and open-hearted people, not some barbarians. And we must take advantage of this experience and to hold widespread information campaign for foreign tourists, including through Internet."

Moreover, analysts note that tourist safety is of no less importance. And indeed, the government and its Concept also focus on development of a relevant program, including training of personnel and construction of infrastructure. Market operators underline that our tourist services must impress visitors for them to come again and bring relatives and friends.

In turn, executive director of a European business association Anna Derevyanko adds that development of tourist infrastructure, including hotels, restaurants, speed railroad, may become an accelerator for both domestic and foreign tourism. In this respect, "tourist card" practice also plays a significant role. Such practice exists in more than 100 cities of the world, including London, Rome, Venice, New-York, Brussels, etc. This May the "tourist card" project was launched in Ukraine's capital. A buyer of the Kyiv City Card can enjoy about 30 museums, including guided tours, can have 10-30% discounts for bus tours and sailing along Dnipro, as well as in hotels, restaurants, taxi, and for medical and legal services.

Every card includes a travel guide with the full list of sights and description of places where tourists can get a discount. The three-day card costs 200 hryvnias, seven-day card - about UAH 400. Cards can be purchased in eight tourist information centers of Kyiv, located in central districts of the capital. And if you have not used it, you can always reimburse 100% of cost.  Project director of "Iles City Card" Dmytro Kolos informs that similar cards will be introduced in Lviv and Odesa, which may help to increase tourist flow by 10-15%.

Moreover, experts of the Union for Development of Rural Green Tourism say that given its climatic conditions Ukraine has great potential for pursuing "green" tourism. There are some 950 sites of "green" tourism in rural areas, which provide homemade cuisine and local entertaining programs.

Premier Mykola Azarov summed up in his speech that in the future Ukraine as a tourist destination country might reach the level of Turkey, but it requires times and means to develop proper infrastructure. "Turkey has spent 30 years and tens of billions of dollars. We will also reach its level eventually," the official said.

Moreover, apart from travel experience and recreation purposes, tourism has long been used as a channel of "people's diplomacy", when millions of people, representatives of various cultures, learn to understand each other and create joint social, political and economic projects. In this respect, the development of tourism with Europe is an important factor of the very European integration we speak so much about. On the other hand, development of tourism as a budget revenue generating sector will help Ukrainian economy to improve the employment rates and stabilize the balance of payments. 

Foreign tourist arrivals by country, 2012


Total visitors*

For travel purpose













Great Britain



























The Netherlands





















Czech Republic






* without operation staff of transport and transit

Source: State border service

Andriy Boyarunets


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