STORYTELLING, QUITE APPEALING TO MODERN TRAVELLERS.
At first sight, Kiev leaves tourists wondering if time has ever touched this former Soviet Union destination, as shiny golden Orthodox church domes rise high above the many identical residential building blocks, reminding foreign visitors of the country's past and present.
After spending a few hours in the city, one can also discover various modern elements that make Kiev what it is nowadays: a place soaked in history, traditions, culture and legends, populated with people from across Ukraine who struggle to make ends meet in the world of today.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Following a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in 2014 which led to serious turbulence within Ukraine's political scene as well as in its ties with Russia, the country's tourism industry suffered a major blow, the effects of which are being experienced to this day, as the neighbouring country has over the years been the main market for Ukraine's inbound tourism.
In 2015, Kiev witnessed a year-on-year drop of 11.7 percent in Russian arrivals which amounted to 166,300; previously the disruption in the two countries' relations had led to a sharp decline of 62.2 percent in 2014's figures when compared to 2013.
However, local and regional authorities are now planning ahead, determined to revive the sector.
As shared by Anton Taranenko, head of tourism department, Kiev City State Administration, the destination currently boasts 80 hostels and 165 hotels, six of which fall under the five-star classification.
Supply has continued to outpace demand in recent years, according to Alexey Metelskiy, director of sales and marketing, Premier Palace Hotel, Kiev, who commented that even though Kiev is a city of nearly three million inhabitants, the current tourist flow – which totalled 1.77 million incoming and domestic visitors in 2015 – cannot match that number and is therefore insufficient.
Despite the poor inbound arrival figures of the past, hospitality experts working across the capital appear to be optimistic when it comes to predictions for the year and forward bookings, with Anna Kozachenko, deputy sales and marketing director, President Hotel Kyiv, reporting that the 374- unit hotel currently enjoys a nearly 90 percent occupancy rate with the property's 17 conference rooms also playing host to events on a daily basis, ranging from meetings to weddings, and more.
The country's recent win at the Eurovision Song Contest, which allows Ukraine to stage the 2017 edition, is considered a strong card to invest in to draw first-time and repeat international visitors.
There is general excitement over welcoming the popular competition – which will most likely be held in Kiev – however, Metelskiy warned that happenings such as the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest or the 2012 UEFA European Championship, are a double-edged sword as expectations might run too high, thus, the outcome of the much-anticipated show may not meet projected results, unless hoteliers and authorities collaborate effectively.
With their clientele being mostly comprised of business guests, the two accommodation establishments also benefit from being near the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex.
The multifunction sports arena is the home of FC Dynamo Kyiv, and according to Tatiana Gosteva, head of public relations department, Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, aside from football matches, a plethora of specialised events can be held at the venue which has a total capacity of up to 70,050 spectators.