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Tourism Development

Beginning in 2004 Serendipity initiated a major effort to assist with tourism development. The initial team consisted of Dr. Bruce Wicks, a University of Illinois specialist on tourism; Karen Hasara, former Mayor of Springfield, Illinois, who has substantial experience with tourism issues; and Katya Lakshtanova, a native of Moscow and a U of I Master's degree in tourism management recipient.

The initial trip to Vladimir by this team was made possible by a $5,000 grant from Sister Cities International.  Approximately $20,000 in additional funding was arranged by Karen Hasara.  This covered several follow-on trips by Dr. Wicks and two additional trips by Katya Lakshtanova, as well as the development of the an English language website and a database program.  (See below.) 

Dr. Wicks has continued to make regular trips to Vladimir--with some assistance from the Vladimir City Administration and Serendipity. 

Dr. Wicks has demonstrated a substantial--and much appreciated--willingness to provide directly--and through his tourism students--as much assistance as possible.  The list below gives a partial account of what has been done to help the Vladimir region to take advantage of its substantial tourism potential--much of which still remains untapped.

L-R:  Dr. Bruce Wicks; Karen Hasara; Vladimir Sharov (a major tourism "stakeholder" in Vladimir);
Dr. Ron Pope, President, Serendipity-Russia

Some Specific Examples

-a website for the City of Vladimir in English:  www.vladimir-russia.info

-a map of Vladimir for visitors in both English and Russian
(We are currently taking responsibility for keeping both of the above updated.)

-A History of the Vladimir Region for Visitors

-a video walking tour of the City of Vladimir

-a database program for organizing tourism relevant information for all of Vladimir Oblast
(This is currently being implemented by the Regional Tourist Information Center.)

-A series of "seminars" on various tourism related topics.  These have covered
     -Strategies for improving service quality
     -Strategies for effective tourism development planning
     -Suggestions for effective use of the Internet for tourism promotion
(PowerPoint slides for these presentations were translated into Russian by the American Home staff—which also provided interpretation at the seminars.)
     -A seminar on effective website design by Katya Lakshtonva, another member of the tourism development team. (Originally from Moscow, Mrs. Lakshtanova was one of Dr. Wicks’ students in the tourism graduate program at the University of Illinois.  She designed the City of Vladimir website, and supervised the development of the database mentioned above, in addition to presenting the website design seminar.  For the record, we invested $5,000 in the development of the database program, the basic structure of which was provided by Dr. Bruce Wicks.)

In addition to the above, Dr.Wicks has
       - provided regular written reports—translated into Russian
       - had his tourism students at the University of Illinois collect information and prepare reports on:
                -Comparative treatment of World Heritage sites in other countries
                -Suggestions for the development new souvenirs
                -Marketing suggestions for a sample tourism business (kayaking)
       - supervised a Masters thesis comparing tourism development by three cooperating towns in Poland with Vladimir. (This led to a trip to Poland by two Vladimir tourism officials—paid for out of our funds.)
       - -presented a very well received paper co-authored with a University of  Illinois PhD tourism student at an international conference in May 2010 on cooperation between the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve and the Vladimir Eparchy in the management of World Heritage sites.  This paper was selected for publication in a book containing the best papers from this conference.
       - contributed to the ongoing provision of concrete suggestions for enhancing the attractiveness of Vladimir as a tourist destination.
       - these have included specific suggestions for signage for visitors who do not know Russian—including demonstration signage in English and Russian for the Oblast Arts Center (we commissioned and contributed to the design and paid for the installation of this signage); specific suggestions on how to keep excessive litter from spoiling the beauty of the city--and more
       - made concrete suggestions on how to pool resources to effectively market Vladimir as a tourist destination--how to make the "tort" bigger for everyone.

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