Ukraine and Austria Seeking to Enhance Cooperation in Tourism and Culture

KIEV, Ukraine -- Culture and Tourism Minister Oksana Bilozir announced this at a press conference that she gave jointly with Austrian Ambassador Michael Miiss to conclude her June 6-8 visit to Austria. Bilozir said that Ukraine used to make accent on international tourism rather than developing domestic tourism, but today her ministry considers cultural and countryside tourism a priority.

To attract foreigners, transport and hotel services must be improved to European standard and Austrian companies are ready to help here, she added. For example, the European Training Center For Hospitality And Tourism called Modul will assist in personnel training and organization of tours.

According to Bilozir, Austria is interested in aiding sky resorts for children in the Carpathian Mountains. She went on saying that tourism agencies of countries situated in the Carpathian region are studying the possibility to reopen the Carpathian Tram tour.

Speaking about cultural cooperation between the two countries, Bilozir noted that Austrian specialists are willing to help Ukraine restore castles, monasteries, churches, and museums that have historical value.

Additionally, Ukraine plans to open a Ukrainian Cultural Information Center in Vienna and buy, with assistance of sponsors, a number of pianos and grand pianos from the famous Austrian firm Bosendorfer (at UAH 100,000 per piece) for philharmonic societies in order to be able to invite well-known pianist to perform for Ukrainian audience.

Ambassador Miiss informed that the Austrian Embassy has built tight cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. Among the upcoming international events, he mentioned the Vienna Opera Ball that will be held in Kyiv on October 21.

Apart from that, the embassy is looking for sponsors to reconstruct the stele that marks the geographical center of Europe, which is on the Ukrainian territory in the Carpathians. The embassy plans to reconstruct the stele and organize a folklore festival in that area in the second half of 2006, the time when Austria will be holding the European Union rotating presidency. Miiss said this action will remind everyone that Ukraine is part of Europe.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, President Viktor Yuschenko is expected to visit Austrian on June 12 and 13. Bilozir said that in conjunction with Mr. Morak, Austria's State Secretary for Culture, she plans to prepare a detailed plan needed to implement the cultural cooperation memorandum and request Yuschenko to sign it during his visit.

Source: Ukrainian News Agency