Tourist Kazan with the eye of Ufa citizen: potential or natural initiative?

What impedes Ufa from becoming like Kazan?

Tourist Kazan with the eye of Ufa citizen: potential or natural initiative?

An unofficial competition between two fraternal republics – Tatarstan and Bashkiria – was discussed several years ago. However, the competition between Kazan and Ufa took a back seat then. Ufa blogger and social activist Artur Idelbaev, who was a famous top Bashkir functionary in the past, thinks his native region lost the race despite great potential. He told about the reasons in an op-ed column written for Realnoe Vremya.

What do they have that Bashkortostan lacks?

Kazan is a very tourist city. In terms of infrastructure, points of interests, organisation of the region's promotion, organisation of tourists' transfer. As a marketing expert, I have always wanted to know what became the major development impulse of Kazan as one of the key tourism centres of Russia? What do they have that Bashkortostan lacks? I have made sure for nth time – there is only one reason. It is big, sincere love of the Tatarstan administration for its republic and desire to make it blossom more.

Every resident of Bashkortostan who visits Kazan unintentionally compares it with Ufa. I am not an exception. And my conclusions are unlikely to be original – Kazan is more beautiful, more developed, better than the capital of our republic without doubt. But our potential would allow us to be not worse. But… We are worse. And they are better.

Note that the tourism cluster developed in Tatarstan not because the regional administration is bad at production

Let's speak about only one sector – tourism. We did not differ from each other in terms of tourist traffic some ten years ago. Now Kazan is Kazan! In addition, the Kremlin is the only thing they have and we don't. And Kul Sharif mosque whose analogue's construction has been lasting in our region for several years mainly thanks to squabbles.

Note that the tourism cluster developed in Tatarstan not because the regional administration is bad at production and undertook a simple and beautiful at first sight way of money attraction. Industry developed very well in Tatarstan at the same time. Favourite baby of President Minnikhanov – Master Kama Industrial Park – and many other successful projects are an example. But we are talking about tourism of Tatarstan.

How Tatarstan became more attractive than Ufa

What an attractive thing do they have that we lack? Museums? They are just museums! People open them. Maybe they have something that shadows our sarmat gold? No… Maybe they have a unique archaeological landmark within the city like a fortress with a 1,000-year-old history? No…

Can't our people make souvenir dolls? Or would they have a less bright colour? Would kitchenware made in the Bashkir national style look worse than Tatar?

Souvenir shops? I counted tens of them on Baumana Street and inside the Kremlin. They are just shops! People open them. And all souvenirs sold in these shops are made by people. Can't our people make souvenir dolls? Or would they have a less bright colour? Would kitchenware made in the Bashkir national style look worse than Tatar? Would unique ceramic goods demonstrating the range of archaeological cultures that existed in South Ural be poorer than Volga ceramic? Crafts from hammered copper, forged iron, birch bark, wood, felt and simple canvas… And leather! Would our souvenirs from tooled leather look worse than Kazan? Oh!

I know we have tens of enterprises that make souvenirs. I held a catalogue issued by our Ministry of Industry in my hands just 3 weeks ago. It has everything. And exhibits are even richer. And there is honey, and everything linked with honey: there are yurts; wonderful silver and bronze jewellery.

We have more potential

But there is no demand. Why? Because there is no tourism. But Kazan has. We also have Shulgan Tash, Iremel, ski resorts, health centres and rafting that are famous across the country. After all, our not the highest mountain Toratau is higher than all mountains in Tatarstan. But there is no industry. But Kazan has. We even have a water park that turned out to be almost like in Kazan, but not worse. But it is part of tourism industry there, no room to swing a cat. But ours is semi-empty.

Maybe Tatars have more initiative there than we do? It is not enough to have private initiative in tourism. An integrated state approach is needed here

Why? It is clear that we have more potential! Maybe Tatars have more initiative there than we do? It is not enough to have a private initiative in tourism. An integrated state approach is needed here – construction of infrastructure, organisation of transfer and logistics, promotion of tourism centres and points of interests. It is functionaries' job. It is not enough to want to do it. It is not enough to know how to do it. One must love their republic and their city. Somehow or other.

Look at the attached photos. From 1 to 4: a local colour is even in the names and concepts of cafés and restaurants. From 5 to 8: souvenir shops are everywhere, they amount several tens. From 9 to 14: goods made of copper, forged iron, china, ceramic, just towels with original lettering… Can't we do so? From 15 to 16: incomparable Kul Sharid inside and outside. 17: Kazan Kremlin.

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By Artur Idelbaev. Author’s photos