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Tourism and Community Development in Ukraine
A Project funded by the 
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Tourism has long been recognized as an important part of the economy as well as an avenue for opening countries to the West. In contrast to most of Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union had a less developed tourism industry but one which had the potential to be developed as a tool for economic and community development after 1991.

The region's historical sites were left to decay, the infrastructure was poorly developed, and the tourist industry was left in the hands of Soviet-era tourist agencies. As a result, the region's historical, cultural, and environmental diversity and heritage remained largely unseen and unvisited. Many community activists believe this situation should change and that tourism should be used to promote Ukraine's heritage, history and physical beauty as a means both of sustainable economic and community development that would serve to preserve these unique aspects of the region. 

The Tourism and Community Development in Ukraine Project was developed by the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe to foster private-public cooperation, drawing on its previous experience with citizen forums and goal-oriented cooperation. Through the creation of "citizen tourism committees," the project aimed to include the community in the promotion of tourism in the areas of Crimea and Western Ukraine, both of which have high potential for successful industries. The ethnic heritage of the Crimean Tatars,  who had returned to the region after being exiled during the Soviet period, was a potential basis for successful cultural tourism initiatives in Crimea.
Through U.S. study tours, training workshops, and the creation of community committees, the project increased civic engagement and developed strategies to develop the tourism industry through public-private efforts, and in doing so, helped community development and democratic participation in these areas.
Maniava monastery in Western Ukraine

IDEE's partner organizations, the Lion Society in Lviv and the Makhuldyur Association in Simferopol, provided on the ground coordination, while IDEE planned and implemented the overall project. The Lion Society supports democratic initiatives in the region, and promotes historical, regional, cultural and ecological studies in Ukraine, and especially in the Lviv region. The Makhuldyur Association supports the study, preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of national minorities and natural sites in Ukraine.

The program began with a November 2002 study tour in the United States for six participants. Participants came from the cities of Mykolaiv, Nadvirna, Lviv, Bakchisaray, Simferopol and Evpatoria, all experienced civic activists engaged in tourism development,which included the vice speaker of the Crimean Parliament. Participants exchanged information and best practices with counterparts in several U.S. towns and cities, including Annapolis, Maryland; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; as well as Williamsburg, Alexandria, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Upon their return, the six partipants assessed their own local tourism industries and suggested ways of improvement based on their observations of U.S. counterpart organizations.

U.S. Study Tour Participants in Williamsburg, Virginia

 The participants then created "citizen tourism committees" in their respective regions. Each committee published a tourism brochure and built a website promoting its city or region. Members of U.S. and Central European counterpart organizations traveled to Ukraine to conduct training workshops to assist participants in assessing and developing viable tourism initiatives for these local groups in Crimea and Western Ukraine.

Members of the committees were invited on a second U.S. study tour in September 2003, which addressed the specific goals of each locality as they developed aspects of the tourism sector in their respective towns and regions. 
Citizens' Committee conference in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Following the second study tour in September 2003, regional seminars were held in each of the regions to focus on marketing efforts and preparing materials for domestic and international promotion of tourism in their regions.

Natural scenery in Crimea, Ukraine

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