Focusing on inter-regional cooperation and promoting the development of infrastructure, particularly in Ukraine and the Crimea, the International Black Sea Economic Forum took place at Yalta, Ukraine at the beginning of October for the second year running.
The forum brought together more than 250 governmental and business representatives from the Black Sea region and the EU, emphasising an attempt from Black Sea economies to consolidate their efforts in building up infrastructure and boosting tourism and investment.
The vice prime minister and minister of infrastructure of Ukraine, Boris Kolesnikov, gave a speech at the forum highlighting the development plans for Ukraine and the Crimea as major tourist destinations. The goal for ten years' time is to attract 20 million tourists per year. His belief is that if the state supports the region with infrastructure development and business is drawn in from that, it will allow the region to develop. A number of transport and development programs are currently being put into place together with the cabinet and the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Mr Kolesnikov also presented a project for developing the Crimea’s western coast. “Here on the western coast we want to create a project similar to the Turkish Anatyla – a project with 100 hotels on thousands of hectares, with an entertainment zone and an international airport. Basically it will be an entire tourist city, based on the new draft law on tourism. With this law there will be 20 years of tax exemption,” he said.
One of the main challenges in developing the tourism sector is improving air connections within the region as it can be difficult to get to from many locations abroad. “I believe that because there are a lot of UK tourists in Malta and Turkey, when we are ready to receive tourists from Western Europe, all companies including British [airlines] will be here in Ukraine,” Mr Kolesnikov told fDi.
The minister mentioned that negotiations have been launched with low-cost carriers Ryan Air and EasyJet. There have also been talks with the Royal Caribbean Cruise company with regards to modernising ports and increasing the flow of tourists to the Crimea.