Volgograd can become a hit among tourists
Promoting Volgograd as one of the centers of investment and tourism in the south of Russia is among the primary strategic goals for the region’s development. Here, a special role is attributed not only to the administrative power, but also to the civil society structures and to the initiatives coming from “below”. To a random observer, the words and actions of Volgograd people themselves speak clearer than the any elaborated projects and programs of city officials. One of the notable and persistent promoters of the Volgograd region’s potential is a famous Volgograd journalist and public figure Anna Stepnova. Her book “The City of Heroes and Its Outskirts” (Gorod gheroyev i okrestnosti) has spread all over the world in the suitcases of tourists who had made Volgograd a part of their travel routes.
In the interview to the “Welcome to Volgograd” portal, Anna Smirnova shares her ideas on the city’s touristic perspectives.
- What, in your opinion, can make a tourist buy a ticket, pack up and come to Volgograd?
- It may be a thing we would least expect! Yes, the sights would matter, for sure! I think that standing at the foot of the “Motherland Calls!” statue at least once in a life should become a “must” for every Russian. But there are many interesting things that we don’t even notice and the value of which we don’t understand. It’s not only for the statistics that Volgograd is called a multinational city. We have created here such a fascinating combination of national cultures that can hardly be found anywhere else. Look at our home cuisine – and you will see traditional dishes of numerous nations together on the same table. This, too, is a huge advantage that we don’t seem to fully understand. But there is a problem, too: Volgograd has always been a city of industry, but of secondary and not tertiary. We are having a difficult time developing services sector. But we are trying hard. It’s our warm attitude that compensates for the flaws of unprofessional service. Finding a good hotel with spacious rooms and a comfortable WC is not a problem. But it is the warm attitude of the personnel that makes a lasting impression. There may be a lack of “European” appeal, but never the lack of affectionate welcome.
- Which kinds of tourism do you think most promising for Volgograd and its region?
- First of all, historic tourism. And, however strange it may sound, gastronomic. This is the sphere that fits best both our capacities and our soul’s desire; it’s just that we haven’t understood it yet. Volgograd seems to have no symbolic dish – unlike the city of Vologda with their butter – but it is only because there are too many things to choose from. Wrap them up nicely – and you won’t believe how we had managed to live without them before. Gastronomic festivals will be dying to have us. Then, there is another direction: event tourism, another thing under the way of proper establishment here. I have developed a project for the organization of event tourism in our region, and I hope we will get down to it soon.
- What shall we do to make Volgograd rank third – after Moscow and Saint-Petersburg – in the list of Russian cities most popular with foreign tourists?
- Feed properly and wholeheartedly, and, no matter what, make everybody stay a night at least! Which means that a city must have an around-the-clock cultural life. There must necessarily be night festivals, concerts!
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What are the projects that Volgograd administration and business should take up first in order to make a real contribution to Volgograd’s formation as a touristic center in the South of Russia?
- It may be a seditious thing to say, but the most important project should be aimed at making the city a comfortable place, first of all, for ourselves. At making the changes that would please the population. If we feel good in our proper city, this can’t help but show. And attract other people.