Ukraine’s Cultural Capital Opens its Doors

  • Ukraine’s Cultural Capital Opens its Doors
Issue 14, June 2009.

Ukraine’s Cultural Capital Opens its Doors

Lviv was recently named Ukraine’s Cultural Capital, providing a boost to the city’s drive towards becoming one of the most exciting tourism destinations in the region. Lviv City Council’s Tourism and Culture head Andriy Sydor has been a leading figure behind efforts in recent years to reinvigorate the city’s cultural life with a string of ambitious public holidays, festivals and international events, and he believes that this latest accolade is merely an acknowledgement of the city’s status.

Why do you think Lviv has been named as the country’s Cultural Capital, and what could this mean for the development of the city?

Lviv was recognized as the country’s cultural capital following a period of extensive research by the national Tourism and Culture service’s Tourism and Resort Council. They cited a long list of reasons why Lviv was given this accolade including the city’s 60 museums and over 100 churches representing different denominations.
Other achievements mentioned by the council included the fact that Lviv hosts over 100 different annual festivals, which together with the city’s architectural wealth make it a magnet for international tourists. In the past two years the number of tourists visiting Lviv has shot up by 40% and now stands at over one million visitors per year, with people coming from former Soviet countries like Belarus and Russia as well as more traditional sources of tourism like Germany, Austria, Britain and the US. This city is rightly famous as a centre of the literary, musical, theatrical and architectural arts, and at Lviv City Council our cultural activities have focused on emphasizing this rich cultural inheritance. Lviv’s churches, frescoes, paintings, holidays and festivals are all part of this inheritance and are part  of Lviv’s unique charm, which is in itself a work of genius.

Over the past few years local government efforts to promote the tourism sector have focused on hosting events and festivals. What will be the next stage of Lviv’s development as a tourist attraction?

Thanks to our efforts the demand for more cultural events in Lviv has now been largely sated. According to recent statistics over 10,000 tourists now visit each festival held in Lviv. Meanwhile, the city’s infrastructure has also radically improved, with over 8000 hotel spaces and more than 700 eateries now within the city limits. There are also WiFi zones operating throughout the city centre and Lviv is now more connected to the outside world than ever before with flights from Lviv to a host of European destinations via Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, LOT, CarpatAir and Wizz Air, so in many ways it is clear that Lviv has huge potential to grow as a tourist destination. We are now looking at developing our tourism strategy. Lviv needs to become the acknowledged tourism capital of Ukraine as well as the country’s cultural capital. With this in mind a non-profit organization named The Lviv City Development Centre has recently been established to help provide a wide range of informational services for tourists through a network of information centers and points which will be located throughout the city.

How does the Lviv City Council hope to attract the attention of major international tourism industry leaders?

This year we are planning to hold a tourism conference within the framework of events being held to mark Lviv’s status as Cultural Capital of Ukraine. We are hopeful that experts from across Ukraine and internationally will also participate in the conference, where they will be joined by leading Lviv professionals whose work encompasses aspects of the tourism trade. Specialists are currently working on the framework of the conference and are being supported by representatives of the Viennese Tourist Office and the Austrian National Tourism Board. The
tourism industry is a major contributor to national GDP throughout Europe and so we are particularly grateful for the participation of our Austrian colleagues. By sharing their experience with us they will help us to avoid any potential pitfalls and benefit from their own work developing Vienna into one of Europe’s most appealing city break destinations.

How do you plan to attract more tourists to Lviv?

We are adopting a multi-vector approach. On the one hand it is important to promote the city domestically in all of Ukraine’s regions, but we will also continue to participate in international tourism forums. Meanwhile, at this year’s international tourism forum in Lviv we plan to unveil our programme for the 2009-2012 period. We are expecting a wide range of international tourism sector professionals to participate and pass on their experiences to us.

Which festivals can we look forward to in the coming months in Lviv?

The summer season will be full of festivals, both indoors and out in the open air. June will see Ukraine’s biggest organ music festival, while for the third year running we will be hosting the ‘Dream Country’, ‘Ethnovyr’ and ‘Summer on the Rynok’ festivals, all of which have a distinctly Ukrainian ethno flavour. We are also planning a number of new holidays before the end of the year which will appeal to tourists and attract their attention.