Doina Nistor: "Tourists impressions: Moldova is a foody country"
Wine opening-day, Fashion Show "Din Inima", ICT Summit… those events became regular in Moldova, last few years, but few people aware of the USAID Moldova marketability project. This project helps Moldova to develop new travel destinations and promoting Moldova as tourist-friendly country.
USAID Moldova marketability project sponsored the first 3-days open air festival of opera music in a natural amphitheater DescOPERA. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the project, Doina Nistor has told us about development of tourism in Moldova.
Doina Nistor: Moldova becomes a major participant in tourism nowadays. It is used to be the tendency of so-called "lazy tourism" in the world but this tendency has changed and tourists are searching for the new experience lately. Many tourists are interested in educational tourism, discovering new horizons, new cultures, turning their heads off big cities and tending to adventure tourism. Tourists keen on discovering new off-radar travel directions like Moldova. The main stream of "adventure travel" tourists came from Western Europe as well as China and USA.
Geo-position of Moldova is a fertile ground for that type of tourism and tourists can witness some virginity. Every tourist in Moldova is very important person, hoping to find more about local culture and people.
InfoMarket: What are the most profitable and attractive traveling directions in Moldova?
Doina Nistor: It is indisputable the art of viticulture is a driving force of tourism in Moldova.
Of course, it should be supplemented by villatic experience, gastronomic delicacy, a little religious and cultural tourism. For example, the number of tourists in Butuceni increased twice or even tripled up to 3000 visitors per month, in the last two years.
People in Moldova should know that tourists consider our country very attractive from the gastronomic point of view, they say: Moldova is a foody country. The meaning is we have absolutely natural taste of meals, fruit and vegetables. Tourism in Moldova at the outset of its career.
InfoMarket: The supported projects intended to put tourism on a commercial basis, sooner or later it must generate profits…
Doina Nistor: Sure thing! For example, we provided strategic and financial support to "Wine Vernissage" exhibition but it turned out that there is no longer need in financial support. This project is self-sustained now! We continue to take part in it just to keep the image of our organization.
The same approach we practice in other projects, we develop new initiatives with local partners, for example, we work with association of consumer goods manufacturing (APIUS), we helped them in the past and now they can carry out "Fashion Week" festival twice a year independently, also they opened chain of brand shops "Din Inima" and developing "ZIP House" seamstress & design school in cooperation with the State University. The same progress refers to Association of IT Companies, they are conducting ICT Summits in Moldova on regular basis.
Those type of events attract tourists and they make knowledge of the country in spare time.
Also, there is noticeable high amount of festivals in Moldova and that is absolutely correct way for tourism development, culture and society. The investments in festivals require less resources but bring excellent public image. The events involve a lot of locals.
Festivals are the best known resources for development of the cities and society, they attract tourists better than museums and sport events and less investments require.
It is practiced in major cities administrations of Europe and USA to show financial assistance to those type of events, it helps to develop cultural relations, involves youth and intellectual part of the society. I think, we have good opportunities here in Moldova.
We are planning to conduct and support over 15 pro-tourism events this year. The traditional ones, like WineFest, where we can show the concept of the festival and such festivals as "Mai Dulce" and "DescOPERA". We contribute to the creation of the annual calendar of events in Moldova.
InfoMarket: How did the idea to organize an open-air opera festival generated?
Doina Nistor: Actually, Austrian maestro di cappella Friedrich Phiffer visited Moldova and he lived in Eco-Resort Butuceni, wherein he made an acquaintance with the owner of the hotel Anatol Butnaru. There is a natural amphitheater in Butuceni and Friedrich Phiffer was thinking what would be the acoustics when you perform classic music there… Anatol Butnaru is a shrewd businessman, he decided to bring into life Mr Phiffer’s idea. There was a lovely opera music performance last year. There were 500 of audience and the ceremony got over the footlights. This year, the opera music event has a status of festival, it is expected to be 1000 visitors and the festival will be held 3 days. We hope it would be an annual festival lasting at least one week.
The unique character of the festival might have a great success among tourists, unlike other places for tourism. It has a huge potential, taking into consideration its unicity and inspirational factor for youth in Moldova.
InfoMarket: Do you think festivals could be a revenue tool for Moldova?
Doina Nistor: There are companies conducting different festivals in Moldova and they believe festivals are excellent engines for building relationships with investors and sponsors. It is indisputable, those festivals need financial contributions from government and local administration as it is practiced in major European cities in order to attract tourists, making a public and cultural image of Moldova.
InfoMarket: What would be your tactics in terms of tourism development in the nearest future?
Doina Nistor: Our number one priority is development of tourism in Moldova. Every single wine producer of Moldova must have a better placed foundation so that tourists would have a genuine experience, for example, cooking traditional meals with locals. We allocate investments for promising projects which could grow in something bigger, we encourage different festivals as well investing in development of local holiday residences and wineries for tourism. We believe that 25-30 wineries and tourist residences could receive patronage of USAID. Also we are working diligently with the Tourism Agency of Moldova and UN World Tourism Organization, particularly, making alternative plans to define branches which could be the most interesting for the industry. We are trying to set up Moldova as a travel destination, our priority in 2016 is involving tourists from the following countries: Germany, UK, Poland, Romania (combined tours) and Scandinavian countries. USAID helps Moldovan representatives to participate in major exhibitions: ITB Berlin, IMEX Frankfurt, WTM, JATA Japan. Tourist agencies of Moldova gave their comments on current environment in tourism in Moldova, namely, it was hard to make 5 or 6 business appointments with potential partners two years ago, however, they are making 15-20 appointments at present. The attention from foreign investors has a positive growth.
Tourism is the type of business which requires integrative approach, accompanying different economic sectors – churches, hotels, wineries, airway service, transport operations, restaurants, gift shops and many more. Our goal is attracting as much tourists as possible, including self-travel tourists (with no advance booking of accommodation), they are also making trips to Moldova for positive emotions and fresh experience, as well as made in advance tourist groups. It is necessary to develop comfortable environment for self-travel tourists, so they can have a better idea of local infrastructure and it’s also important to work closely with local tourist agencies in terms of scheduled tourist groups. We will run a selection of at least 10 tour operators in order to demonstrate that high standard of professionalism can be established not only for outbound tourism but inbound as well, meaning, involve tourists from abroad in Moldova.
We have a lot of work to do and I’m confident, tourism is a fast-moving economic sector in Moldova. We are also expecting to witness sensational growth of the industry from build-up stage into prosperity, attracting not dozens of tourists but hundreds of thousands of tourists.