I have worked since September in the project Promotion of low-cost and youth tourism in the cross-border areas. It is a combination of five partners in Russia and two in Finland.
For me the project had a flying start. After only one or two weeks in the project I found myself heading towards the border, picking the passport with a brand new visa from a travel agency in Tohmajärvi and then forward towards Petrozavodsk to meet the project partners. Then one or two weeks more and a new trip to Petrozavodsk, Olonets (Aunus in Finnish) and Sortavala to see in practice what our partners are doing. In Karelia I went to see hostels and student dormitories that are offering or are going to offer low cost accommodation especially for young people.
What is this all about? In this project one aim is to increase accommodation possibilities (low cost, good quality) in Petrozavodsk, Sortavala, Olonets, Kostamuksha and Segezha hoping that once the service is there the young people can find their way to these places. Social media is in focus when we are doing marketing.
In September and October our Russian partners coming from education institutes have made renovation plans for their hostels and student apartments. Later on an internet based booking portal will be developed. It is planned to be open by May 2013. This portal can be used by the Finnish and Russian partners and other interested education institutes and companies.
In Finland our partner Centria (university of applied sciences) has prepared a training program to be implemented in their unit in Ylivieska and in Kalajoki resort. This two days program is in December and it is targeted for teachers and specialists working in tourism and service branches. They will learn to know about Centria tourism education program and learning methods, as well as about ways to cooperate with tourism companies. In return the Russian partners and participants will tell about tourism education in their region.
The project is now taking its first steps. It will last until November 2014 and for me it is very motivating to take part in this important and exiting effort. For me this project is success if we really can open doors and make travel across the border easier for young people who this way learn to know each other better.