Developing sustainable tourism in Russia

Group photo at Red Square Moscow.
Visiting Red Square in Moscow in September 2016. From left: Per Strömberg (USN); Sergey Ilkevich (RSUTS); David Weaver (Griffith University); Tim Abessadze (USN); Gudrun Helgadottir (USN); Kjell Olsen (UiT); Ingeborg Nordbø (USN); Aase Haukass Gjerde (USN)

USN-staff and students have engaged in developing a more sustainable tourism in Russia.

Text: Jan-Henrik Kulberg
Video: Daria Kalashnikova

- Our goal has been to foster a sustainable tourist-development in Russia, through academic support in education. The Russian tourism-industry suffers from a very short time thinking, says the project leader Per Strömberg, PhD.

Close collaboration

Together with colleagues from USN’s research group for sustainable tourism, he and his colleague Tim Abessadze have worked closely with the academic staff at Russian State University of Tourism and Service in Moscow.



Differences and similarities

Strömberg says USN-staff also have learned a lot through the project.

- We have a highly competent staff, but through working so closely with our Russian colleagues and students, we have gained knowledge about conditions that are quite different from what we are used to in our western world. At the same time, we have discovered that there are lots of similarities. It’s very easy to put too much emphasis on differences, and forget everything that we have in common, says Strömberg.

The most important goal for the project has been curriculum development, to develop three educational programs based on the issue of sustainable tourism. Moreover, he says there have been several co-publications through the project, and he is actually in the process of finishing a new book on arctic tourism, together with a Russian colleague. The book will be out in spring 2017.

Meeting locals in Telemark. Photo

Precious chances for students

- This project couldn’t have come at a better time. It provides precious chances for our students to visit such an interesting country as Norway for study purposes, says Sergey Ilkevich, PhD at Russian State University of Tourism and Service (RSUTS).

Student Artur Sukyazyan agrees:

- I got a lot of knowledge in Norway, especially in international business and sustainable tourism. I think it will be very useful for me in the future, because now I have a view on how to develop tourism in other countries, and I can use this experience for my future and for Russia.

Celebrating 17th May in Bø. Photo

Norway is like Mars

- Despite the fact that we are neighbours in the north, when you come to Norway as a young student, you come to Mars, says Yuri Kopylov, Vice Rector at Russian State University of Tourism and Service (RSUTS).

- It is absolutely different from Russia. In Norway the students can see what sustainability really means. And they can see the ways in how to transfer it to Russia. 

You have to travel

USN-student Elin Thorpe, says the experience has given her invaluable knowledge and insight:

- It’s important for us to see how other students are working with tourism development. We have been working with Russian students in a project. And then we had a presentation in a Russian school.  We learned a lot there. And when studying tourism, you have to travel to see the world. You can’t stay in your own place, and say you’re studying tourism.

Group Photo

The project

"Education in the field of sustainable tourism development in Russia"

Collaboration between University College of Southeast Norway and Russian State University of Tourism and Service.

Started in 2013 and ended in 2016

Funded by SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education) with 3 mill. NOK

Outcome so far: 

  • Curriculum development (program development at BA & MA -level, and for business sector)
  • Mobility and exchange of students (45 in total) and scholars (46 in total) both ways
  • Development of a pedagogical tool box for e-learning
  • Learning Lab with digital equipment
  • Knowledge transfer in management structure in Norway
  • Research projects and research publications on Sustainability, Arctic tourism, rural tourism, and pedagogy
  • Integration of Russian scholars into the European/Scandinavian research network, and integration of Norwegian and International scholars into the Russian research network of tourism.

Further plans:  

  • Studentmobility through Erasmus + 
  • Staff-mobilty, through week-long visits
  • Rural-tourism-collaborative project for a future publication