Kazan Sets Its Sights On Hosting The Olympics
There is an inevitability about a visit to Kazan because as soon as you arrive in Russia’s sixth most populated city you are immediately met with a sense of “Spokoiny” … the Russian word for calm and tranquility. This on the face of it would appear a paradox as Kazan in itself is not just a distinctive city but unique in having a 50/ 50 religious split of Muslim and Christian Orthodox culture where the Russian language is mostly spoken in the city althoughTatar is also widely spoken by Muslims. Indeed much has been made of this very point by some commentators that Kazan will be the first Muslim city to hold the World Cup Championship final games in the history of the FIFA World Cup since its inauguration event back in 1934.
So with the allure of visiting such a city of mystique and intrigue, one that had been mentioned to me by numerous individuals both Russian and foreigners as to its beauty and magnificence I set off to visit and view with my own eyes what the city had to offer and whether it truly was prepared for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup 2018.
It is useful to note about Kazan that back In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the ‘Third Capital’ of Russia. In 2009 it was chosen as the ‘Sports capital of Russia’ and it still is referred to as such. The city hosted the 2013 Summer Universiade, 2014 World Fencing Championships, the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, and was one of the host cities for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and of course is all set for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I was fortunate to be granted an interview with the Director of Kazan’s Committee for Tourism Daria Sannikova. The city has very ambitious aims in the immediate future, quite apart from the hosting of the World Cup games. Next year will see the hosting of the World Skills Master Trades Championships in Kazan. But the ultimate goal is the hosting of the Olympic Games in the city.
All the necessary steps are in place for the forthcoming World Cup including the necessary signage in multiple languages to assist fans whilst they are moving in and around the city seem to be in place. A helpline is in place in multiple languages to assist all nationalities whilst they are staying during the duration of the World Cup, and this will very much be needed as real diversity in language culture will descend onto the city during the months of June and July where Germany, Poland, France, Iran, South Korea and Columbia will play their games in the relatively new built and iconic looking stadium in the form of the Kazan Arena.
The challenges for Kazan moving forward are numerous. Creating ongoing and consistent tourism promotion and marketing is key for Kazan sustaining its tourism industry. The World Cup will see huge swathes of fans arrive in the city that need constant entertainment during periods between the games. I was assured by the Director that a varied and stimulating programme of activities can be found in the city not only from the traditional drivers of Tourist activity, including the beautiful Kremlin and absolutely stunning Mosque, but also with tours on double decker busses, river cruises, river side walking and cycling in the numerous walk and cycle paths, culinary diversification, arts and culture, and exhibitions that can be found within the confines of the city.
What seems apparent to all visiting the city is that there is a real passion about what it has to offer. The only doubts prevailing in this new world order that is circumnavigating the current world is whether the current geopolitical agenda will have an adverse effect on the continued promotion and marketability of the city to the global audience. However, I think my assesment is that the city will ride the wave of enjoyment that the multiple fans and nations will bring to Kazan in the summer, and this will extend itself to greater success that will surely bring Kazan very much to the for with many more global tourists taking the decision to visit new and exciting new frontiers that Kazan can offer.
We wish it all the very best in its endeavors for it clearly deserves the success it eventually is going to experience.
Jason is a News Host at Sputnik International Radio
Jason White 28.2.18 © RussiaKnowledge