Disclaimer: the present article is the original academic work at the origin of the Moldova Tours 2.0 project; in a way, this work is the conceptual genitor of the www.moldovatours.org website. It was drafted shortly before my arrival in Moldova in 2015. No citation of this article should be made by referring to the url of this webpage .
The illustations (graphs and tables), absent from this version, can be consulted in the original publication, the Handbook of Research on Individualism and Identity in the Globalized Digital Age edited by Sigmund Topor, which I strongly recommend. The article below should always be cited as follows:
Pilkington, M. 2016. Tourism for development in the Republic of Moldova: empowering individuals and extending the reach of globalization trhough an innovative 2.0 digital platform, Handbook of Research on Individualism and Identity in the Globalized Digital Age A book edited by Francis Sigmund Topor, (Keio University, Japan), IGI Global E-Editorial Discovery, pp.500-531
Please respect scrupulously the above citation if you wish to refer to my work.
Sincerely, Marc Pilkington, Founder and Director of Moldova Tours 2.0
Tourism for development in the Republic of Moldova
Empowering individuals and extending the reach of globalization through an innovative 2.0 digital platform
Marc Pilkington, PhD
University of Burgundy Franche Comté, France
The Republic of Moldova is a small (33,843 sq. km) relatively densely populated country with a rich History. She gained her independence, and became a sovereign country on 27 August 1991. Moldova is in South East Europe, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania in the north of the Balkan Peninsula. The distance between the North and the South is 350 km, and between the West and the East, 150 km. The Republic of Moldova adopted her constitution in July 1994, and became a democratic republic (endorsing the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers), functioning under the Rule of Law. The legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, which is elected for four year-terms. There have been eight parliamentary elections since 1991. The latest parliamentary elections were held in Moldova on 30 November 2014. The elections were admittedly more a loss than a victory for the pro-European coalition, because center-right parties were obviously divided by sharp tensions. The pro-Russian Socialist Party, comprised of former communists, emerged as the winner of the 2014 elections. It was the strongest party in Parliament, with 20.51% of votes.
Yet, these facts are seldom known outside the small circles of specialists, journalists and commentators of this rather tormented region of the world. But what do people really know about the Republic of Moldova? Will they eventually book a flight to the capital Chisinau? Unfortunately, the Republic of Moldova does not quite enjoy a good reputation abroad: (oft-amplified) stories of poverty, trafficking of human organs, prostitution, and conflicts involving minorities abound.
As the BBC (2015, para12) states:
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and has a large foreign debt and high unemployment. It is heavily dependent on Russia for energy supplies, and Russia has not hesitated to take advantage of this fact as a way of exerting economic pressure on Moldova.
In reality, Moldova presents a more appealing outlook and potential; small roads winding through the vineyards, sunflower fields and verdant pastures, bucolic and romantic waterfalls, beautiful monasteries carved into the limestone cliffs, not to forget the festive spirit that reigns in Chisinau, the capital. Part I will sketch out a synthesis between globalization trends and modern developments in the Republic of Moldova. Part II investigates the issue of tourism, and the underlying causes behind the disappointing figures in this small country. Part III puts forward a groundbreaking socially inclusive 2.0 digital initiative aimed at reconciling the dynamics of globalization with development trends in the Republic of Moldova.
The Republic of Moldova and Globalization
One Country at the Crossroads
Globalization is an umbrella term employed to describe a multi-factor causal process, which results in an increased level of interconnectedness between national economies, regional blocks, financial, capital, and information flows, and also people across the world. Globalization is a derivative of the terms “globe” and “global”, which refer to an interconnected whole. It arguably originated with the industrial revolution in Great Britain in 1640, or with the French revolution in 1789. Other authors (O’Rourke & Williamson, 2002) date the phenomenon of globalization back to the nineteenth century. The common denominator of the often nebulous, definitions thereof, is a wide-ranging process of change that entails “social, cultural, economic, and political interdependencies and consequences” (Marsella, 2012, p. 456).
The Republic of Moldova signed an agreement of association with the European Union in Vilnius in 2014 (BBC, 2015). The EU being deeply involved in the globalization process, it is self-evident that the Republic of Moldova too is integral to globalization. The latter is not only circumscribed to the political and economic spheres, but also the cultural one. The results of the cultural integration of the Republic of Moldova into globalization may already be observed by the most vigilant observers. Thousands of Bessarabia’s natives work abroad today. Some of them will eventually return, but others have decided to establish, to set new roots in their country of adoption. They do not leave Moldova alone, but often with their family, their traditions, and the cultural heritage they grew up with. They are the principal representatives of the Republic of Moldova abroad, which they incarnate in this complex globalization process.
Thanks to these emigrants, people from other nations are exposed to the culture of the Republic of Moldova, while Moldovans are also exposed to other cultures in a continuous process of cross-cultural interaction. What is taking place with this Moldovan cultural model being transposed to other people, traditions, models of existence and cultures? Is there any renunciation whatsoever to the essence of Moldovan culture? Moldova’s very rich culture offers a wide range of activities to the interested visitor: literature, theater, music, plastic arts, architecture, radio and television broadcasting, library archives, design, book publishing, scientific research, cultural tourism… This diversity will be the coping stone of the novel thematic tours offered by our innovative 2.0 digital platform presented in section 3.
Globalization carries substantial changes in the international political sphere, thereby affecting all member countries of the international community, including, of course, the Republic of Moldova (Galben, 2011). On the one hand, world-systems analysis has shown that globalization goes hand in hand with the emergence of a world hegemonic power, the United States in the case at hand (Lechner, 2001), or more generally, a domination by Western advanced economies, thereby conferring a truly asymmetric nature to the globalization process. On the other hand, countries that appear to play a more passive role often point to cultural disruption, if not imperialism (Phillipson, 1992, 2000). All in all, globalization is never a zero-sum game. Corporate restructurings, mergers, bankruptcies, outsourcing, temporary employment are long-term societal trends affecting the lives of millions, thereby shaping anew the pattern of capital accumulation and technology transfers across the globe.
In spite of the unprecedented level of functional integration achieved by economic units that take part in the globalization process, the latter is characterized by a growing and multidimensional phenomenon of fragmentation. Interestingly enough, the different types of fragmentation “are not incompatible and indeed reinforce each other. They are specific: organizational fragmentation, geographical (by nation states) fragmentation; and fragmentation of the production process, which results in the international location of different components of manufacturing or services products in different countries” (Ietto-Gillies, 2005, p. 206). Moreover, another fundamental type of fragmentation is observed, that of the labor force itself through a “divide and rule strategy” (Cowling & Sugden, 1987), which can be seen as a mere by-product of the globalization process. Firms respond to attacks by rivals in the international arena by the search for cheaper labor and a divided labor force with a reduced bargaining power.
The 2007-2008 global turmoil sent shock waves throughout the world, thereby destabilizing the hard-fought configurations previously in place, and finally presiding over the emergence of a multipolar world, wherein the USA can no longer be seen as the single superpower in a globalized world. What we are witnessing, from a geopolitical standpoint, is an emerging plurality of centers of power. The recent creation of the New Development Bank in 2014 bears testimony to this shift towards a multipolar world, with the recognition of a rebalancing of power in favor of BRICS countries. The weight of this reconfiguration is particular acute in the Republic of Moldova where neighboring Russia exerts a pernicious influence on domestic economic affairs (BBC, 2015):
The fact the Moldovan economy has traditionally been heavily dependent on the export of wine to Russia has also allowed Moscow to apply economic pressure by occasionally banning the import of Moldovan wine. In 2013-14, wine was among a broad range of Moldovan agricultural exports banned by Russia before and after the country’s signing of an EU association agreement, along with Ukraine and Georgia.
What is so specific about the Republic of Moldova is the fact that globalization trends are superimposed on the unfinished agenda of modernization undergone by a country slowly moving in the direction of a functional democracy. At present, the Republic of Moldova needs its own geopolitical framework that would help her acquire more stability in our fast-changing world, having in mind long-term national interests of Moldovan society.
The Moldovan economy
We present below a few select economic indicators for the Republic of Moldova, which are borrowed to the International Monetary Fund [IMF] Country Report No 14/190 (International Monetary Fund, 2014).
Moldova’s Development Strategy (Horizon 2025)
Devising a sound development strategy for the Republic of Moldova at the horizon 2025 is the safest way to overcome the global economic crisis that has plagued the world since 2007-2008, to stabilize the institutions, and ensure the modernization of the country. Since its independence in 1991, Moldova has undergone a wide-ranging transformation process. Yet, in spite of many important reforms in justice, education, and the economy that have helped achieve a more stable balance in key strategic areas, it remains unclear what exactly the nature of Moldova’s development thread is. Delineating the development strategy of Moldova is made even more complex by the incomplete transition from the Soviet past toward a functional democracy with an efficient and sustainable model of economic growth and governance. The Republic of Moldova has suffered from the global crisis. In 2009, Moldova’s economy experienced a massive recession (-6.5%), with a budget deficit amounting to 9% of GDP. The table below presents the evolution of nominal, real and per capita GDP between 2005 and 2009. After an impressive period of growth between 2005 and 2008, Moldova was hit violently by the global financial crisis.
Negative phenomena within the economic and political systems have been felt painfully in the most important areas of Moldovan life, thereby amplifying social issues, polarizing trends in society, and amplifying various expressions of alienation and intolerance in the social and political environment. It is increasingly clear that conventional (and often schematic) approaches to the Moldovan conundrum fail to provide the answer to the enduring question: where should we go from now? The political elite of the country, forming the state structures at all levels, tends to make electoral promises as part of ambitious development strategies, without being able to provide answers to the key questions for society, inter alia, how should the resources of the country be allocated, how can we attract foreign investment, and what should be the new priorities, in order to achieve a new qualitative level of development? Today, Moldovan society is characterized by a lack of consensus that further feeds internal and damaging contradictions, thereby hampering the potential of the country to set foot on the path toward development and prosperity.
The bones of contention that characterize Moldova in 2015
The hybrid model of a democracy and a market economy, which has made the success of countless countries throughout the world, has proved largely ineffective in Moldova, due to limited knowledge of the modern world by the majority of the population, lack of sincerity at the upper echelons of power, faltering motivation to improve the lives of the Moldovans, irresponsibility on the part of politicians, who remain entangled in bureaucratic practices and finally corruption scandals (Pilkington, 2015).
A contradiction persists between the oligarchic structure of the economy, and the need to develop a strong entrepreneurial base, without exacerbating the tensions between the dominant business and political groups. A pressure exists to develop broad international cooperation schemes. Yet the latter economic activities that would be supported should not be detrimental to the ecological configuration of the country, and should help maintain acceptable standards of food quality and health care for the citizens.
Moldova needs to consolidate the rule of Law, and move away from reform inertia, which has characterized the country for so long. It needs to put an end to the control of the judiciary power by politicians, thereby propelling judicial nihilism and corruption in Moldovan society.
At the time of writing, massive anti-government protests are taking place in Chisinau, structured around the Truth and Dignity platform (2015), led by notorious figures of civil society. Former Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat was arrested on 15 October 2015 over allegations of corruption (Foy, 2015). Social peace and harmony is threatened by rising inequalities that are the widening gap between the rich minority and the poor majority of society of the country. Drawing on concepts of capability and justice (Sen,, 2010, 2012), the National Development Report (2014, p. 4) acknowledges that “recent economic growth and social progress has disproportionately benefited the bigger cities, while people in rural areas continue to have fewer economic opportunities and only partial access services such as health, education, water and sanitation at best”.
The apparent openness of society, and the pluralism of the Moldovan mass media in the developing civil society come in sharp contrast with opposing trends conducted through the same channels aiming at manipulation and concentration of power in the hands of a handful of public organizations and NGOs.
There is a growing tension between, on the one hand, the need to study the genuine History of Moldova, to develop a national identity, a true Moldovan patriotism with full respect for the interests of neighboring countries and, on the other hand, the absence of such a consciousness in the ranks of Moldovan citizens, on whom are imposed imaginary and manipulative versions as regards the origin and the History of the Moldovan people, whether consciously or unconsciously, often subordinated to intellectual elites and outside (foreign) influences.
Proposed solutions for Moldova
The accumulation of contradictions leads to the continuous deformation of the socio-cultural context of the contemporary Moldovan society in its entirety, thereby turning it into a society with dual or even triple standards. This is why elements of the systemic crisis, the general crisis within which Moldova finds itself, requires a deep interpretative guidance, an analysis of reality from the same perspective as the problems and phenomena that society is currently faced with, inventing the modalities to solve the latter problems, and ensure a stable development of the country. The country’s development strategy must ensure high quality, systemic and irreversible evolutions in key areas of social life supported by general democratic principles thanks to the real and enduring values of the Moldovan people, based on their tremendously rich culture and ancient history: “Moldova has a historic opportunity to modernize its economy and ensure inclusive sustainable development for all” (UNDP, Moldova National Development Report, 2014, p. 4).
Very modestly, we believe that our innovative project constitutes a step in the right direction on the path to the sustainable economic and human development.
Tourism in Moldova: some issues
Tourism and poverty alleviation: a review of literature
Although tourism in the Republic of Moldova is still embryonic, it could follow the example of other countries that have used tourism as a development engine with the implementation and monitoring of projects, which have contributed, at various degrees and levels, to the enhanced welfare of local populations.
The link between poverty alleviation and tourism was first acknowledged in 1999 during the seventh session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-7) which set the objective to “maximize the potential of tourism for eradicating poverty by developing appropriate strategies in cooperation with all major groups, and indigenous and local communities” (CSD7 1999, p. 39). Pro-poor tourism has been a flourishing research area ever since (Ashley, 2006; Ashley & Goodwin, 2007; Ashley & Haysom, 2008; Organisation Mondiale du Tourisme [OMT], 2002, 2005; Pro-Poor Tourism Partnership, 2004, 2005a, 2005b). SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) is an international not-for-profit development organization that works on poverty alleviation schemes and sustainable development in twenty countries and five regions of the world. SNV has been very active in the tourism sector since 1994 (OMT & SNV, 2015, p. xv), in order to alleviate poverty through the increase in production, income and employment opportunities for underprivileged populations. Because the management of tourism destinations is paramount (OMT, 2007; Twining-Ward, 2007), SNV supervises field work and conducts ground-level studies to assess how financial flows that circulate in the tourism sector eventually reach the poor. Tourism projects in developing countries set the stage for innovative public-private partnerships (PPP).
In Western Ghana, SNV initiated in 2006 a tourism project (OMT & SNV, 2015, p.10) structured approximately twenty thermal stations, a NGO (Ghana Wildlife Society), a consulting company monitoring a poverty-alleviation scheme, the National Park of Ankasa, GTBank Ghana, and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP). The experiment successfully enabled the enhancement of tourism destinations on the West coast, thereby contributing to welfare, and reducing poverty levels.
Likewise, the Tourism Council of Bhutan in partnership with various actors of the private sector has been targeting specific actions aimed at the involvement of local communities, in order to derive economic benefits from tourism growth (ibid., p.18). Let us mention the creation of Nabji-Korphua (Dojri, 2007; Rinzi, Vermeulen & Glasbergen, 2007), a new marked trekking path that gave rise to the collection of data during its first year of existence. In spite of a very moderate number of visits (six groups accounting for 70 tourists in 2007), the initiative added US$4,000 to the income of the local communities, thus benefiting up to 72% of all households. Work includes drawing water, cooking, merchandising vegetables, and handicrafting (Rinzi, Vermeulen & Glasbergen, 2007)
In Albania, a country, which has, for a long time, shared with the Republic of Moldova the title of the poorest country in Europe, the role of tourism in promoting economing development has been analyzed by Bazini and Nedelea (2008, pp. 23-28).
A tourism project involves various communities in North Tanzania, who offer tourists to live in small villages and share the genuine lifestyle of its inhabitants (Mitchell, Keane & Laidlaw, 2009; OMT & SNV, 2015). Accomodation and food catering services are offered, along with many types of excursions (by bicycle, boat, or on foot) in the forests near the waterfalls. Communities share cultural experiences, e.g., village tales, dances, handicrafts, and food, with the visitors (Mitchell, Keane, & Laidlaw, 2009). On-site training was provided by the project organisers. In Croatia, tourism is paramount in the rural development of the country, and its poverty reduction strategy (United Nations, 2008, p. 25):
Rural tourism plays an important role for the economic, social and cultural development of the rural areas. It is closely related to agricultural production, regional development, natural environment, and rural way of life showing traditional lifestyle, ambience, cultural and historical traditions.
A 2.0 precedent: www.moldovenii.md
In our endeavor to understand the determinants and the potential of tourism in the Republic of Moldova, we draw on a benchmark in Moldovan cyberspace, a 2.0 role model so to speak, namely the breathtaking website www.moldovenii.md. It represents a platform of information that regroups the most significant news and information obtained from credible sources on History, culture, Diaspora and development programs of Moldova. A powerful search engine offers advanced access to a rich library that contains a wide variety of information that pertains to Moldovan music, films, literature, art, nature, architecture etc Independent of public authorities and political parties, www.moldovenii.md is a platform for discussions where opinion may be expressed, and where polls are available on topics of interest to Moldovans and foreigners. This makes www.moldovenii.md an innovative, collaborative, and interactive 2.0 platform promoting new projects, and empowering visitors of the website.
www.moldovenii.md (2015para5) features a very interesting webpage on tourism in Moldova:
Moldova is so small and diverse, so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. There is no paradox, because even we, the majority of the Moldavian citizens, know too little about our country. Sometimes we think we know it well, but all of a sudden, one day, traveling outside Chisinau, Balti and Tiraspol somewhere into the country, on a picnic or to pay a visit, taking a tour or a hike with friends, having just moved from the central highway we start discovering those little wonders, which astonish us deeply.
Stakeholders in the Tourism Industry
For the UNWTO (2002), a local tourism destination is
[a] physical space in which a visitor spends at least one overnight. It includes tourism products such as support services and attractions, and tourism resources within one day´s return travel time. It has physical and administrative boundaries defining its management, images and perceptions defining its market competitiveness. Local tourism destinations incorporate various stakeholders often including a host community, and can nest and network to form larger destinations.
The local tourism destination is (UNWTO, 2002)
- The fundamental unit, on which all the many complex dimensions of tourism are based,
- The focal point in the development and delivery of tourism products and implementation of tourism policy,
- The basic unit of analysis in tourism,
- Offers a broad range of products, experiences and services under the destination brand,
- Cluster: co-location of activities (products and services) that are linked horizontally, vertically or diagonally along the value chain and served by public and private sector,
- Physical, but also intangible (image, identity, personality).
Tourism in the Republic of Moldova
Now let us go into more detail, and assess the current situation of Moldova as regards its tourism industry, and its attractiveness potential. We reproduce below a brief outline of the country’s administrative structure (PwC, 2014).
Moldova is currently divided into 37 first-tier units, including 32 districts (in Romanian – “raioane”), three municipalities (Chişinău, Bălţi, Bender), one autonomous territorial unit (Gagauzia) and one territorial unit (Transnistria). The capital and largest city is Chisinau. Moldova has 66 cities (towns), including the five with municipality status, and 917 communes. Some other 699 villages are too small to have separate administration, so are administratively part of either cities (40 of them) or communes (659). This makes for a total of 1,681 localities in Moldova (p.7).
Tourism activities offered by tourism agencies and tour operators of Moldova in 20141
|First and foremost, the Republic of Moldova has been a member of the World Tourism Organization (www2.unwto.org/), which is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. According to Moldova’s national office of statistics, in 2014, tourism agencies and tour operators provided tourism services and excursions to 238100 tourists, a progression of +16.2% compared to 2013 (26% for domestic tourism i.e. Moldova for Moldovans, 14.7% for outward tourism and 9.2% for inward tourism). Let us note that inward tourism (attracting foreigners to Moldova) records the weakest increase in relative terms. Another way to look at the problem is to view potential inward tourism as being the highest, albeit still hampered by deficient infrastructures and a deficit in the perception of the country abroad.|
Out of the 14,400 foreign tourists who visited the Republic of Moldova in 2014, and consumed the services of tourism agencies and tour operators, 58.2% traveled for leisure or recreational purposes, 34.5% for professional / business purposes, 3.9% to receive health care services. These tourists were respectively citizens of Romania (21,2%), Russian Federation (13,9%), Ukraine (10,7%), Germany (4,9%), Turkey (4,8%), Italy (4,0%), USA (3,9%), Israel (3,7%), Poland (3,0%), United Kingdom Nord (2,9%), Bulgaria (2,7%), Belarus (2,5%), Netherlands (2,3%), Austria (1,9%), Sweden (1,7%), France (1,3%), Lithuania (1,2%).
Through tourism agencies and tour operators, 180,600 Moldovan tourists and excursionists went abroad in 2014 for tourism purposes, a 14.7% increase compared to 2013. An overwhelming majority of Moldovan citizens went abroad for leisure and recreational purposes (98.7%). Most citizens of the Republic of Moldova opted for Turkey (35.2% of the total went abroad), Bulgaria (33.4%), Romania (10.2%), Greece (8.5%), Egypt (2.1%), Ukraine and United Arab Emirates (both 1.6%), Spain (0.9%).
The number of tourists who took part in domestic tourism in 2014 amounted to 43,000, a 26% increase compared to 2013. Trips of Moldovan residents inside the country were organized by tourism agencies and tour operators of the municipality of Chisinau (49. 5%), the Centre (24.6%), and the South (21.0%).
Lonely Planet depicting Moldova as Europe’s least-visited country in 2013
An online article by Leif Pettersen (2013) published by Lonely Planet depicts a bleak, albeit forward-looking, picture of the tourism industry in Moldova. Pettersen (2013) reminds us of the mere 9,000 international arrivals in the country in 2011. Instead of a defeatist attitude, Moldova is adopting a pro-active and forward-looking attitude towards tourism. In fact, the country was voted by Lonely Planet readers as the #2 off-the-beaten-path destination in the world (behind Bhutan) in the 2013 Traveler’s Choice poll. Cooperative tourism sector is actively given support by USAID (www.usaid.gov) and CEED II (http://ceed.md/); Moldova’s is telling the world how and why we must look at the other side of the coin of un/popularity. Numerous people have become jaded by the beaten path, and would certainly find the Republic of Moldova a land worth spending time in. Why not head toward a breathtaking cave monastery perched above a winding valley at Orheiul Vechi, taking a ride in a crowded minibus, and bounce down busted up roads squashed in the back row between villagers returning from a shopping afternoon in Chisinau?
Why not try a Soviet-loving, communist-era Moscow immersion in the breakaway republic of Transdniestra? This entails queuing up at a militarized border crossing, and sweating out tedious formalities, before entering a beautiful territory out of space and of time. Wine lovers will also get the chance to visit the wonder wine caves in Cricova (www.cricova.md), Purcari (www.purcari.md), Chateau Vartely (http://vartely.md), and Milestii Mici (www.milestii-mici.md) where rewarding tastings and tours can are already staged year-round. The 2012 legalization of small wine production was a milestone in Moldova. Prior to that, small producers were dependent on large, state-run producers, a legacy from the Soviet era, to bring their wine production to the market. Since then, the export wine market has experienced a second youth, as shown by the dynamism of Moldova’s Wine Festival (www.facebook.com/moldovawineday), held during the first week of October, which is arguably the biggest event on the country’s calendar. Close to the monastery at Orheiul Vechi, a sensorial agro-tourism experience can be found at Agro Pensiunea Butuceni (www.pensiuneabutuceni.md), a welcoming place that offers a variety of rooms, and can arrange meals, tours, cultural activities and performances. Interested observers will also be interested in the Consolidated Unit for Implementing and Monitoring the Wine Sector Monitoring Program, which offers an interesting Internet platform for all stakeholders in the wine industry (http://www.winemoldova.md/)
How about the capital Chisinau? First-time visitors are surprised by how green the city is, one of the leafiest capital cities in Europe, Chisinau’s eating and drinking scene is an appealing place for gourmets. Chisinau’s nightlife has a good reputation, not to forget the rich museums of the city.
Deficient Infrastructures, High Poverty Levels and Rising Geopolitical Tensions
In spite of the fast growth experienced by Moldova in the run-up to the global crisis, and the brevity of the recession that started in 2009, Moldova remains, as it is oft-quoted, a poor country (IMF, 2014).
Despite a sharp decline in poverty in recent years, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and structural reforms are needed to promote sustainable growth. Based on the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) regional poverty line of US$5/day (PPP), 55 percent of the population was poor in 2011. While this was significantly lower than 94 percent in 2002, Moldova’s poverty rate is still more than double the ECA average of 25 percent (p.4).
Geopolitical tensions that originated with the Maidan revolution have triggered fears for Moldova. For the IMF (2014, p.7), “the impact of recent regional geopolitical developments on the Moldovan economy will depend on whether the crisis spreads beyond Ukraine, trade tensions with Russia escalate, and trade routes and gas supply are disrupted”. The IMF believes that adverse consequences can be mitigated if external macroeconomic shocks are better absorbed, and if the Moldovan economy increases its levels of integration into global trade and energy markets over the medium term. The direct impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the Moldovan economy is likely to be fairly limited due to the modest trade and financial linkages between the two countries. Ukraine’s share of Moldovan exports is about 6 percent, and remittances from Ukraine represent around 1 percent of GDP. Likewise, on the financial side, the direct impact would also be negligible due to the very limited cross-border financial relations.
Contrariwise, a further slowdown in the Russian economy and/or an escalation of trade tensions with Russia may prove harmful. Russia’s share of Moldovan exports is roughly 26 percent, and remittances from Russia represent about 15 percent of Moldova’s GDP (IMF, 2014, p.7).). Moreover, Russia is an important source of inward FDI to Moldova (about 10 percent of the total stock of FDI). A disruption of trade routes and gas supply would have harmful consequences on the Moldovan economy. The CIS’s share in Moldovan exports is 40 percent, and most land routes to CIS countries pass through Ukraine. Similarly, Moldova is very reliant on Russian gas transported via pipelines in Ukraine (over 90 percent of total Moldovan gas consumption). Substituting gas imports from Russia will be problematic. Over the medium term, increased integration into global trade and energy markets would help reduce the impact of shocks in any single trading partner ((IMF, 2014, p.7). Furthermore, the Moldovan banking system is still heavily reliant on funding from Russian banks. A disruption of cross-bank funding between Russian and Moldovan banks could significantly destabilize the already fragile banking system of the country.
Furthermore, an embarrassment has been caused for the ex-Soviet state on track for EU membership by a massive scandal threatening to destabilize the banking system (Pilkington, 2015). The Central Bank of Moldova shed light on the disappearance of a billion dollars (12.5% of the country’s GDP) involving the three banks (Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank) that hold about a third of all bank assets of the country, including money for pension payments. The transactions allegedly happened just before the parliamentary elections in late November 2014.
Of course, these adverse socio-economic factors and geopolitical uncertainty do not create favorable conditions for the growth of tourism in the Republic of Moldova. Yet, as we will see, there might be a way out of this economic and geopolitical deadlock. Put differently, it might not be the end of History for tourism in Moldova.
A socially inclusive 2.0 digital platform
Social Entrepreneurship and IT skills in Moldova
The National Development Report (2014) states that,
Moldova needs a truly transformational change if it is to overcome these challenges. Such a change cannot be achieved by any one actor. However, the role of the private sector is essential in driving development; this report argues that the private sector’s contribution to economic growth, technological change and general welfare has yet to be fully harnessed in Moldova (p.4).
As a matter of fact, the present era requires the enhancement of IT skills
The implementation of new information technologies, which is a true revolution in the contemporary evolutionary process of science, and includes nano and biotechnologies, television laser, optical and quantum computers, depends heavily on the quality of resources and knowledge of contemporary specialists. In this regard, graduates in science of the Free International University of Moldova (ULIM) and the Technical University of Moldova, are highly appreciated not only in the United States and Canada, but are given to employment opportunities in universities, businesses and companies intercontinental and especially in scientific research centers (International Conference of Rectors, Shanghai, 2011).
The awareness of these societal needs coupled with the skills of these Moldovan graduates should ring a bell in favor of increased social entrepreneurship in the Republic of Moldova, by drawing upon innovative business techniques.
What is Web 2.0 and why does it matter for Tourism?
For many, the term web 2.0 was coined by O’Reilly on 30.9.2005 on his personal website. It amounted to a “business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform“. In fact, a year earlier, in 2004, the first web 2.0 conference was held October 5 – 7, 2004 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. The emergence of Web 2.0 is a revolution that has transformed the Internet landscape: “With more Internet users accessing broadband and surfing the web at higher speeds, social networking, user-generated content, social bookmarking, sharing of information, videos, images and opinions exponentially increased the amount of content on the Web” (Noti, 2013, p.116). The shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was essentially one from static to dynamic: “The beginning of the Web era, which than was mainly PC-based, enabled marketers to create static online brochures that later evolved into increasingly dynamic, multimedia resources” (Noti, 2013, p.115).. This shift also impacted the business world for Internet technology has a direct impact on companies, customers, suppliers, distributors and potential entrants into an industry (Porter, 2001).
In the initial stages of mass Internet, in the late 1990s and early 2000s,, until the advent of Web 2 .0, the online travel industry witnessed the development of new market dynamics and consumer behaviours (Werthner & Klein, 1999; Werthner & Ricci, 2004). Yet, the shift to web 2.0 was mirrored by a process of wide-ranging disintermediation in the tourism industry: “customers are able to purchase products/services or to make reservations in the tourism sector, directly online without having to deal with intermediary companies” (Noti, 2013, p.115). Tourists everywhere are looking for new experiences. They wish to retrieve on the Web all the relevant information about a particular destination (e.g. comments, videos, pictures, images, stories). Tourism 2.0 allows for the customization of tourism services by cherry-picking every detail, and comparing prices online. The Web 2.0 culture has paved the way for an interactive environment characterized by information sharing and feedback informational loops. Moreover, the implementation of Web 2.0 platforms and social media, have intensified social networking practices, giving the tourism experience an unprecedented interactive and collaborative nature.
Chief among our insights [at the first web 2.0 conference in 2004] was that “the network as platform” means far more than just offering old applications via the network (“software as a service”); it means building applications that literally get better the more people use them, harnessing network effects not only to acquire users, but also to learn from them and build on their contributions (O’Reilly, 2005).
Mobile Devices and Web 2.0
Another crucial evolution, which has accompanied the widespread use of Web 2.0, is the mass adoption of mobile devices encouraging tourism communication. Smartphones and tablets are easily portable and accessible devices that can be used by travellers whilst on holiday, in order to find and share information about tourist destinations.
The Transformative Power of Tourism 2.0
In tourism 1.0 (the current scenario), the user books on the Internet a range of services (hotel, travel agency, cultural site, museum…) that will form the thrust of the touristic experience. Yet, as Edu (2010) has argued:
The tourism model 1.0 guarantees neither access by SMEs nor equality of conditions to maintain the same level of competitiveness.
The tourism 1.0 model solves neither the problems of access to and transparency of information nor those of cooperation between businesses and destinations.
The tourism 1.0 model does not incorporate knowledge transfer as a factor determining the productivity of destinations and enterprises.
Based on the Te.S.C.He.T. (2003) project, tourism 2.0 is a new agent-based infrastructure enabling the handling and the organization of tourism-related informationby the user, the creation of innovative services, and the dynamic, adaptive, intelligent, and autonomous composition of tourism services. The architecture of the tourism 2.0 solution allows for the integration of heterogeneous and distributed information sources as well as the interoperability among heterogeneous information systems. The guiding principle behind tourism 2.0 is to help the user access services and information over the Internet, through the use of smart mobile devices that evolve from being mere transmitter/receiver of information to full-fledged information-centric devices at the heart of a network containing active and pro-active elements.
Tourism 2.0 is the business revolution in the tourism and leisure industry caused by the move to the tourist ecosystem as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them (Edu, 2010).
Tourism 2.0 or Tourism 3.0?
In the digital footprints of Web 2.0, Web 3.0 is the third stage of web development. Its comprehensive treatment is beyond the scope of the present chapter. Web 3.0 also called Semantic Web, allows the meaning of user-generated content to be recognized and understood by intelligent machines, thereby enabling computer to computer interaction (Mistilis & Bouhalis, 2012):
Web 3.0, frequently referred to as the Semantic Web, represents the evolution of Web 2.0 in key areas such as social networking and mobility, and introduces potentially revolutionary concepts including the use of intelligent agents, open data and semantic searches (HSMAI Foundation, 2015, p.6)
Amongst the potentialities of tourism 3.0, we foresee two important trends:
- The use of blockchain technology (Pilkington, 2016) and crypto-currencies to pay for tourism services, as it is already the case for de, a German vacation booking company, whose online customers can make payments for casas particulares, the Cuban versions of a “bed & breakfast,” with Bitcoin.
- The use of connected object or the Internet of things, in order to enhance the collective intelligence enshrined in tourism services.
In the Internet of Things, smart objects are reading between the lines of our user data to deliver relevant information or experiences tailored to the time of day, the people we’re with, the places we go and our current activities (pfsk labs, 2014).
For instance, by installing e-beacons sensors on Moldovan cultural sites, the interactive nature of visits is likely to be greatly improved. A precedent was successfully implemented in Belgium, a developed country.
To bring this contextual experience into the physical world, Prophets, a digital marketing and communication strategy firm, decided to create an interactive experience within the Rubens House in Antwerp, Belgium. By using iBeacon technology in key points around the museum, visitors are invited to use their tablets or phones to connect with artwork and exhibits in a whole new way. At first the Beacons serve as a guide through the different rooms, and then showcase relevant information as you approach a specific piece (pfsk labs, 2014).
Outline of the Project
These last decades, tourism expanded tremendously fast in comparison with other sectors of the economy, and it is developing countries that display the highest growth rates. Their revenue from international tourism has risen sixfold since 1990, while they only doubled in high-income countries (OMT & OND, 2015).
As shown on Figure 5 below, the Internet, whether accessed from a computer or a smartphone, was the predominant mode of decision-making for tourists planning to visit an emergent country in 2012. It will come as no surprise that the Internet will be a market penetration strategy of choice to successfully conquer the e-tourism market in the Republic of Moldova.
Moldova Tours 2.0 is a start-up company in the field of tourism aimed at foreigners with a thematic approach to its product-offer, to take into account the aspirations and needs of visitors travelling to Moldova.
Moldova Tours 2.0 is a start-up company of a new kind that offers a blend of entry points to discover beautiful Moldova so as to fill your personal aspirations and objectives.
The Republic Moldova is a young country in its current form, following notably the collapse of the Soviet Union and its independence in 1991. Its people are welcoming and often multilingual with a vibrant and dynamic culture, and a sense of openness to the world. It offers thematic tours on a wide range of levels to ensure that the visitors’ experience will be an unforgettable one for themselves, their friends, their family and their colleagues. The country, bordered by Romania and Ukraine, was voted by readers of Lonely Planet in 2013 the number two off-the-beaten-path destination in the world. Following this assessment, only a customized formula can help visitors make the best of their visit. A platform will offer a fully secured transfer payment system in Dollars, Euros, Swiss francs, or even Bitcoin! Moldova Tours 2.0 plans to offer the following tours:
- The Monastery Tour
- The Wine Tour
- The History Tour (Art, History and Culture)
- The Outdoors Tour
- The Linguistic Tour (Romanian/Russian): stay in host families
- The Academic Tour
- The Social Business Tour
- The Corporate Tour (for potential investors)
- The Geopolitical Tour (guided tour to Transdniestria)
- The Freedom Tour (entirely customized)
The monastery tour is one of the highlights of the product offer. Notorious monasteries and churches in Moldova include the Capriana Monastery, the Hincu Monastery, the Rudi Monastery, the Saharna Monastery, the Tipova Monastery, the Curchi Monastery, the Frumoasa Monastery, the Cosauti Monastery, the Japca Monastery, and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church. They all represent the most valuable spiritual treasure of Moldova, symbols of the country’s historical background. For first-time visitor, a tour with short trips to the Moldovan monasteries is offered.
The Capriana monastery is one of the oldest and most beautiful monuments in the Republic of Moldova. It is the cradle of the Moldovan literature, music and architecture. The Monastery is located in one of the most picturesque places of the Codry reserve, about 40 km from Chisinau. The Capriana Monastery dates back to the early 1420s. It was initially built of wood. It has been patronized by many rulers of Moldova, including Stefan cel Mare himself. The Holy Trinity Monastery of Saharna, situated about 110 km north of the capital Chisinau, is considered as one of Moldova’s pilgrimage centres. One local legend says that once upon a time, a monk saw the shining figure of Maria on top of one of the highest rocks. When the monk reached the rock, he discovered the footsteps left by St. Maria.
The Frumoasa Monastery is a must-see in Moldova. Frumoasa in Romanian means beautiful. It was so named due to the beauty of the picturesque landscapes of the surrounding vineyards, orchards, and forests. Today, it is a convent, although it was originally founded as a monastery. The monastery founders first lived in earth-houses, and worked at the construction of the church, built of wood all days long. Today, a museum has opened in one of the restored buildings. Tipova Monastery is located about 100 km to the north from Chisinau city on a rocky bank of the Dniester River. It forms a marvellous complex of historical monuments and natural landscapes, an isle of preserved nature in Moldova. A small river flows into the Dniester River, and forms beautiful waterfalls of 10-16 meters height. There is a legend that the mythological poet Orpheus spent his last years in these rocks, and the remains of the poet rest in the niche of one of the cascades’ gorge. The monastery complex is made of fifteen caves on dizzying height carved in a huge rock.
Let us finish with this small sample of Moldovan monasteries with Curchi Monastery founded in the times of Stefan Cel Mare. The monastery is made of three churches, one of them, the Virgin’s Assumption Cathedral, is almost an exact replica of St. Andrew Cathedral in Kiev, built from the layouts of Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In all three churches, visitors enjoy extraordinary acoustics and beautiful ornaments.
The History Tour will take visitors through the rich cultural heritage of Moldova. Points of interest include the earliest visible remains of Geto-Dacian sites and Roman fortifications, the remains of medieval fortresses, archaeological complexes such as Orheiul Vechi, cave monasteries, nobles’ mansions and peasant houses. Chisinau also features cultural heritage monuments that epitomize the domestic architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Republic of Moldova has eighty seven museums with rich collections of art. Many of them are of architectural significance. Notorious ones include Alexei Mateevici House & Museum, Alexandr Pushkin House & Museum, Constantin Stamati House & Museum, Igor Vieru House and Museum, Museum Complex Old Orhei, the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, the National Archaeology and History Museum of Moldova, the Museum of Popular Art, National Gagauz history and ethnographic museum Dumitru Cara-Ciobanu. The Republic of Moldova is a mosaic of nationalities and cultures with many traditions, languages, folklore, cooking, and so on. There are more than 880 folk music groups, reflecting the distinct traditions and ethnic origins. Moldova has made lots of progress in poverty alleviation over the last decade, and should be given credit for its accomplishments according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. However, it is still the case that many people still live under the poverty threshold. Moldova Tours 2.0 wants to offer to its customers the possibility to make fully secured online donations to eminent grassroots-level NGOs through a payment platform.
Moldova Tours 2.0 offers a social business tour with visits guided by professionals in underprivileged areas. The visits have nothing to do with voyeurism or ill-spirited intentions. All the reverse, carry the hope that the social and development needs of Moldova will be better understood by foreigners. For instance, on the occasion of the International Roma Day, visitors will get the chance to meet the Roma community through concerts and special cultural events, which is an integral part of Moldovan society, and has long made important contributions to Moldova’s history and culture.
The Wine tour runs through the vineyards, which are remarkable attractions of the Moldovan countryside. Throughout its history, Moldova has gained rich traditions of growing grapes and wine production. There are now hundred and forty two wineries, out of which twenty three have experience and tourism capabilities to receive visitors. Visitors will experience and learn about the complex wine-making processes, including the bottling and sample the end-product. Moldovan wines enjoy an excellent international reputation for their quality. Moldova Tours 2.0 provides new opportunities to select itineraries: underground cellars and towns, wine storage facilities, wine processing factories, production processes of sparkling wine etc. Along beautiful vineyards surrounding the Wine Road, visits to wineries such as Cricova Winery, Milestii Mici Winery, Purcari Winery, Cojusna Winery, are offered.
The Academic tour is a stunning innovation. The founder of Moldova Tours 2.0, temporarily evolving away from academia, is connected to the local academic community. Academic visits and events in English are offered with, in mind, future collaborative initiatives
The Corporate tour is designed for potential investors. Knowing that the Moldovan workforce is young, skilled, dynamic, and multilingual, Moldova Tours 2.0 plans to offer investment services (on a consulting basis) for those willing to expand their activities in this promising country (PwC, 2014).
Due to its favorable geographical position, Moldova is an attractive location for international organizations and transnational corporations, and becoming increasingly important as a place to conduct business between western and eastern markets (p.9).
To the question ‘why invest in Moldova?’ answers include
Favorable geographical position at the crossroads of commercial routes
Proximity to large world markets (European Union and Commonwealth of Independent States)
Platform for manufacturing and exporting both to the CIS and to the EU
Competitive general corporate income tax rate in the region – 12%
Tax and customs framework similar to that of the EU
Considerable network of operational Double Tax Treaties and Investment Protection Agreements
Market access through three Free Trade Agreements including:
WTO members (worldwide)
Autonomous Trade Preferences (EU countries)
Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)
CEFTA members (most Balkan countries)
CIS members (with certain exceptions)
Entrepreneurial activities under preferential terms and conditions developed in free economic zones
Well-skilled multilingual workforce
Relatively low employment costs
Favorable visa regime
Improved legal framework regulating entrepreneurial activity
Starting a business – fast and easy to handle
Investment opportunities through privatization of public property and public-private partnership (PwC, 2014, p.5)
The corporate tour could become a flagship feature of the company in the future on the doorstep of future foreign direct investment projects.
In the short-run, the primary financial management objective (Brighham & Houston, 2015) of Moldova Tours 2.0 is to breakeven. However, as part of a renewed conception of the firm that espouses corporate social responsibility, Moldova Tours 2.0 is proud to set long-term aims to develop tourism in Moldova, and improve the global perception of the country abroad. Just like any business venture, Moldova Tours 2.0 must take cognizance of its environment, which features favourable characteristics, such as the pro-European policies adopted since 2009, likely to be reinforced by the Association of Agreement signed in Vilnius in 2014. It is true that tourism is embryonic in this post-soviet Republic and transition economy. Yet, increased attention is being placed on the Republic of Moldova by notorious tourist guides, such as Lonely Planet.
The economy in itself has great potential, as shown respectively by the 8.9% and 4.6% growth rates achieved in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately, the Moldovan economy is projected to suffer a slight recession in 2015 as a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis, the Russian embargo bound to be detrimental to agriculture (BBC, 2015), and above all, following the gigantic banking scandal that has affected the country (Pilkington, 2015). Another encouraging sign is the improvement in the quality of the infrastructures, and the money recently invested by the European Investment Bank (2015). In spite of the Ukrainian crisis, there are valid reasons to be optimistic for this country. For instance, the quality of higher education is improving, which constitutes an increasing source of skilled workers in the form of dynamic, motivated and multilingual graduates. One must look at the drivers of growth for Moldova Tours 2.0, such as demographic changes, economic and legislative factors. Macro-benefits are uneasy to forecast, but one can envision the following socio-economic benefits in the medium term.
It is sometimes unclear whether tourism should somehow help the underprivileged fringe of society. More particularly, how should it benefit the poor, households who lack access to education and basic health care or people who suffer from disabilities or other health care problems? The latter are likely to be unable to participate directly in tourism activities. However, they might benefit from spillover effects on other activities as well from investment in social infrastructures promoted by tourism. Moreover, these weak segments of society should be protected from the adverse consequences of tourism. The UN acknowledged the link between tourism and poverty alleviation in a context of sustainable development (CSD7, 1999). The following principles for pursuing poverty alleviation through tourism take into account previous, longstanding and relevant principles for ‘pro-poor tourism’ (Pro-Poor Tourism Partnership, 2005a).
- All aspects and types of tourism should be concerned about poverty alleviation.
- All governments should include poverty alleviation as a key aim of tourism development and consider tourism as a possible tool for reducing poverty.
- The competitiveness and economic success of tourism businesses and destinations is critical to poverty alleviation.
- All tourism businesses should be concerned about the impact of their activities on local communities and seek to benefit the poor through their actions.
- Tourism destinations should be managed with poverty alleviation as a central aim that is built into strategies and action plans.
- A sound understanding of how tourism functions in destinations is required, including how tourism income is distributed and who benefits from it.
- Planning and development of tourism in destinations should involve a wide range of interests, including participation and representation from poor communities.
- All potential impacts of tourism on the livelihood of communities should be considered, including current and future local and global impacts on natural and cultural resources.
- Attention must be paid to the viability of all projects involving the poor, ensuring access to markets and maximising opportunities for beneficial links with local enterprises.
- Impacts of tourism on poverty alleviation should be effectively monitored.
Tourism is endowed with characteristics that make it attractive to low-income countries and underprivileged communities. Tourism puts great emphasis on certain characteristics that are common to developing countries, such as warm weather, rich cultural heritage, beauty of landscapes and biodiversity. In this respect, let us note that Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape meets all these conditions, and is currently part of the Tentative List in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Many of these advantages are often found in rural areas. This constitutes a competitive advantage for tourism, while a drawback for most other sectors. Tourism is accessible to the poor, as it is relatively labour intensive, and often composed of small and medium-sized enterprises, and micro-enterprises. Tourism activities lend themselves to women, young people, and underprivileged groups, such as ethnic minorities. The poor can find employment in the tourism sector, as the required skills need not be discouraging, and part-time work is often the norm. Tourism services are made of a wide array of activities and factors. Tourists spend their money on different types of goods and services, which benefit agriculture, craftsmanship, transports etc. There will then be a multiplier effect, as economic agents benefiting from the consumption of tourists, make additional expenses in the rest of the economy.
Tourism bridges the gap between producers and consumers. The interaction between tourists and underprivileged communities gives rise to mutually advantageous exchanges between the two groups, such as enhanced awareness of social and environmental issues or benefits from improved social infrastructures. Social work can be consolidated by tourism enterprises, which are in a position to bridge the gap between an informal configuration wherein revenues barely cover the costs of a micro-enterprise, and a more formal and better-structured entity that attracts further investment potential.
The Enhanced Visibility of Moldova’s Cultural Sites
The visibility of cultural sites could be improved, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with ICOM, the international organisation of museums and museum professionals. It is a NGO maintaining formal relations with UNESCO, committed to the conservation, continuation, and communication to society of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible. ICOM Moldova was registered in 2010. It is working on the national strategic plan, named Cultura-2020 aimed at the development of culture in Moldova. At the onset of the new millennium, ICOM Moldova has identified fifteen thousand monuments forming the historical and archaeological heritage of the country. Museums funds count about 675 000 thousand exhibits preserved in six National museums, and one hundred local museums. ICOM Moldova aims to provide opportunities to museum professionals in Moldova to liaise with ICOM to keep up with the latest museological trends in the world. ICOM Moldova is active in the area of development and improvement of museums, and their activity on par with world standards. ICOM Moldova plans to reach out, not only to all museum professionals, but also to the wider society. In this respect, Moldova Tours 2.0 could play a pivotal role at the interface between the stakeholders of the tourism ecosystem. ICOM Moldova also plans to cooperate with other institutions within the Eastern Partnership region and EU countries. The participation of ICOM Moldova in European financial assistance programs matters for the development of the cultural sector.
Potential for Social Inclusion of the Social Business Tour
This aspect involves active project management with eclectic actors in rural areas. Local residents must be taken into account as persons, but also community members, which might be defined from a geographic (towns, villages and the like), or socio-cultural (autochthon or ethnic groups, women, youngsters and so on) standpoint, or according to their areas of interest or activity. The social work conducted within local communities can be enriched by the development of representative organisations of the communities (OMT & OND, 2015, p.13)). One can also promote socially inclusive businesses. This term denotes those companies, which are sustainable, profitable, and act in favour of low-income communities. It pertains to tourism enterprises and associations, whenever they guide and assist the poor, by helping them gain access to specific markets (OMT & OND, 2015, p.48).
A Stepping Stone for FDI Initiatives in the Republic of Moldova
The corporate tour is designed with the help of a database of current and potential tourism sector investment opportunities in Moldova indicating their level of investment readiness. Up-to-date market intelligence and performance data sets will be provided, under the form of an annual tourism investment monitor highlighting trends within accommodation, transport and tourism-related services. Moldova Tours 2.0 will assemble an accessible PR and communications plan aimed at the international investment community. Moldova Tours 2.0 shall provide tourism sector specific facilitation services including introduction to local partners (B2B), and potential projects as well as tailored tourism research and market analysis. Moldova Tours 2.0 clients interested in the corporate tour might attend relevant tourism specific investment events and other investment conferences in key FDI source countries. They could express interest in hosting tourism investment opportunities conference/seminars as well as in potential source markets.
Academic Cross-fertilization of Ideas
The academic tour should enable the cross-fertilization of ideas, and the development of new collaborative schemes between foreign academics, on the one hand, and Moldovan professors and higher education administrators on the other hand. Hopefully, this will contribute to the internationalization of the Moldovan higher education system (Pilkington, 2014), and eventually emphasize its newly established pro-European stance.
Finally, a full geopolitical tour in Transdniestria will be proposed by Moldova Tours 2.0 in collaboration with official authorities. It is hoped that these off-the-beaten path tourism experiences will help raise awareness on issues that pertain to this autarchic and separatist region of Moldova at the interface between the West and the East.
Future Research Directions
The direct contributions of tourism consumption by foreign visitors in the Republic Moldova could also be apprehended through the use of Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), a standard statistical framework, and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism (Frechtling, 2010, Dwyer et al., 2008; Cooper et al., 2008; United Nations, 2010).
One should also look at the strategies designed by policymakers, in order to modernize the education system, and enhance the skills and qualifications required by tourism growth in a globalized world: English proficiency, digital literacy, cross-cultural communication etc.
Another potential fruitful research direction could be to conduct qualitative field studies on the necessary compromises between the forces of globalization, and the growth of rural and sustainable tourism in the Republic of Moldova.
In this article, we have put into perspective the situation of the Republic of Moldova in the wider context of globalization. After briefly investigating the links between tourism and poverty alleviation, and precedents in other developing countries, we have outlined the idiosyncratic features and the transformative dimension of tourism 2.0.
Finally, we have unveiled an entrepreneurial project aimed at promoting tourism. Through the transformative power of tourism 2.0, Moldova Tours 2.0 marks a significant step towards enhanced human, economic and social development of the Republic of Moldova in a globalized world.
Keywords and definitions
The Moldova–European Union Association Agreement is a treaty that establishes a political and economic association between the two parties. The association agreement commits Moldova to economic, judicial and financial reforms to converge its policies and legislation to those of the European Union. It was initialled on 29 November 2013 in Brussels. It was signed on 27 June 2014 in Vilnius, and has been provisionally applied since 1 September 2014.
A digital platform refers to the software or hardware of a website allowing for the interaction of its users.
Economic development refers to the sustained, concerted actions of communities and policymakers that improve the standard of living and economic health of a given country. The overall concept of development is complex and multidimensional. It comprises social, economic, cultural, anthropological and technological aspects.
First introduced by Barbara Solomon in 1976 as a method of social work with oppressed Afro-American communities, empowerment refers to the ability to gain control over our lives either by ourselves or with the help of others.
Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, firms, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. It has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human well-being around the world.
Poverty alleviation is any process that reduces income fluctuation between poor and non-poor scenarios (Adongo and Deen-Swarray, 2006). This is different from poverty reduction, which aims to permanently move an individual or household from a poor to a non-poor scenario.
Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society by empowering poor and marginalized people to take advantage of global opportunities.
- The practice of travelling for pleasure.
- The business of providing tours and services for tourists.
Tourism 2.0 is the business revolution in the tourism and leisure industry caused by the move to the tourist ecosystem as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is to build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (Edu, 2010).
Web 2.0 is a business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform (O’Reilly, 2005).
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 5698 monuments were included in the Register of Monuments of History and 7368 were included in the Register of Monuments of Archeology protected by the state.
 This resembles the concept of social marketing (Pilkington, 2007)