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 Will avoid 'vodka and balalaika'

Timofej Rogozhin discussing tourism with Fjodor, one of the new guides in Barentsburg. FOTO: Christian Nicolai Bjørke

Will avoid 'vodka and balalaika'

Trust Arkikugol's new tourism director Timofej Rogozhin is looking forward to developing Barentsburg as a tourism destination.

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Timofej Rogozhin, 38, is originally from Murmansk, but is living in Moscow and coming from a job at the company Russia Discovery. He is planning to move to Svalbard with his wife and two children, and take on a project he is very eager for.

"My main task will be to ensure that these efforts are being done in a good way," he said. "The opportunities being built now must be developed and we have to create new ones. Everything should, of course, be done in collaboration with the governor and the rest of the industry here in Svalbard."


Language focus
The Trust plans to hire six guides, in addition to Rogozhin. When Svalbardposten met the tourism director, he brought Elena Shmeleva, who speaks good English and Norwegian.

"I have studied languages ​​at the University of Moscow and will use both here," said Shmeleva, who currently has a contract until autumn. Language skills will be emphasized in the future tourism initiative.

"To do a professional job in tourism it is important to have people who speak both English and Norwegian," said Rogozhin, who has a very good grasp of English but prefers to express himself in Russian. "We will emphasize that in the future."


Cooperation
Rogozhin said he thinks tourism will be the main activity of the Trust in only a few years.

"It is a bold restructuring of the coal company, but I think it is right since there is a huge potential in this area," he said. "I have worked in the tourism industry all my life, and believe Barentsburg and Svalbard has a huge untapped potential."
Rogozhin said he is busy with the topic of collaboration.

"We are oriented about the plans of Svalbard Tourism and want to collaborate with institutions in Longyearbyen for this to be possible," he said. "We will get special tourist groups, which others in the industry might also profit from."

More specifically, the tourism director said, they are working on plans to create charter flights from Moscow to Longyearbyen in a few years.


Pomor history
There is still much that remains before the Russians have fully developed their tourism product. But as early as next winter a lot of things will be tried out. Rogozhin said he is also thinking about developing the historical aspects of the settlement.

"We must try to avoid 'vodka and balalaika' syndrome, and pursue what is more authentic," he said. "We would like, for example, to reflect more of the history of the Russian Pomors on Svalbard. The Pomors are an authentic link that connects our people to the archipelago, which will be of great interest in the markets we will try to reach."


Enthusiam from Visit Svalbard
"This is entirely positive. A proper and well-run offering in Barentsburg will enhance the overall product we have here in Svalbard enormously," said Ronny Brunvoll, director of Visit Svalbard, formerly known as Svalbard Tourism.

The Trust is a member of Visit Svalbard and even took the initiative to present an orientation about the company's plans during the tourism agency's general meeting.

"It is positive that the Trust has clearly expressed a desire to collaborate on the Russian market," Brunvoll said.

"This can be a win-win situation for the tourism industry both here in Longyearbyen and in Barentsburg."

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