Libor Lněnička: “It is important to improve Arkhangelsk in order to attract tourists”

Libor Lněnička: “It is important to improve Arkhangelsk in order to attract tourists”

Today we took the opportunity to meet a guest of our university, Libor Lněnička, a representative of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. In addition to discussing his visit, we were pleased to ask our guest about the city of Brno and to discover that Arkhangelsk is not the first Russian city Libor has been to.

-          Good afternoon, Libor! Why did you decide to visit Arkhangelsk and NArFU?

-          There were three options available. The first one was Arkhangelsk, the second – Yakutsk, the third – Magadan. I managed to visit Perm two years ago, four years ago I went to Astrakhan, and now to Arkhangelsk. I intend to write several papers on the planning of your city, and to compare it in this context with the cities I visited before.

-          What have you been doing in Arkhangelsk and NArFU?

-          First I had meetings at the Marketing and Entrepreneurship Department of the Higher School of Economics, Management and Law. Then I visited the regional Tourist Information Center and the City Administration. The last visit was devoted to urban development general planning, economic and strategic planning.

Besides, I’ve done some sightseeing. In my free time I walked around the city a lot, so I could see some objects with my own eyes. I managed to visit Habarka Island and Pustosh Village, and several places to the south of the city. Also I went to the open air wooden architecture museum “Malye Korely”, the Novodvinsk fortress and the Solovetsky Islands, where I had to stay for a weekend due to a storm on the White Sea.

-          Speaking of your cooperation with the Higher School of Economics, Management and Law, what were the issues you discussed at the department?

-          We talked about marketing, tourism, thematic literature in the context of specific examples. Of course, we also discussed the issues and processes of strategic planning, based on the examples of Arkhangelsk and the region as a whole.

-          Are your discussions at NArFU going to result in new projects?

-          Not yet. We were just establishing contacts, discussing future participation in different conferences in Europe, Western Europe in particular. This was not about any specific projects.

-          Could you comment on the professional characteristics of the university’s staff?

-          They are all very open people. I was getting all the support I needed.

-          And from the academic standpoint?

-          NArFU is quite a young university. To put this into perspective – Masaryk University was founded in 1919. I do not know how the institutions interact within NArFU, but as far as I’ve been able to see, the seven recently established higher schools are somewhat isolated systems.

-          Speaking about your research interests, could you please tell us your impressions of our city?

-          They are very pleasant, to be honest. In order to really understand the city you should take into account its industrial center status and also the fact that it is a large port. I was happy to learn more about the history of Arkhangelsk, especially during the era of Peter the Great.

-          Is the local urban environment functioning properly?

-          It is important to improve Arkhangelsk in order to attract tourists. Compared to the Solovetsky Islands, there are lots of things to improve. Unfortunately, there is very little information in English available on the streets, and it complicates orientation. You could, of course, get a map or a leaflet in English in the city center, but in public places or near the sights themselves it is rather difficult to find any information, even some basic data on what the building is famous for.

-          In your view, what the university’s role in tourism and urban environment should be, both on municipal and regional levels?

-          The university should be one of the key players in this area. For example, the Marketing Department at NArFU has two specialists who are in touch with the city administration. You have a huge human potential, so you should use it in your interactions with the business. It was a big surprise to learn about the “Arctic Floating University” project, even though I had already been familiar with the Arctic vector of research at NArFU. The project is an important mechanism of research support. The fact that you rent a whole vessel was really surprising. I even managed to see the vessel.

-          Are there any grounds for comparison between Arkhangelsk and European cities, such as Brno, for example?

-          There are, but we should bear in mind the urban environment concentration. For example, Prague and Brno are cities with concentrated environment, even despite their division into districts. There is one similar example in Russia, and that is Moscow.  The other cities I visited are quite big and stretch along the banks of rivers. We do not have such rivers in the Czech Republic. Arkhangelsk is quite big, if we take into consideration the area it occupies.

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