Tatarstan, one of the richest regions in Russia, was known for its effective investment regime and natural resources, but a tourist hot spot was it not. The tourist industry revolved primarily around the capital Kazan, two historic sites, and major international sporting events; there was no common notion of Tatarstan as a destination in its own right. The tourism industry was growing well but could not compete with oil processing and machinery-building for government’s or workforce’s attention.
THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT AGENCY IN TATARSTAN HIRED US TO HELP WITH A TWO-PRONGED CHALLENGE
1. To put Tatarstan on the global tourist map, and
2. To put tourism on the economic map of Tatarstan
To make tourism an economic powerhouse, we needed to remove a ceiling for its growth. Under old thinking, the region’s tourist resources were seen as limited by the number of historic sites, events, and other attractions that were unevenly distributed in land and time. We suggested to look at a wider horizon, and acknowledge the global trend for travel being done for the sake of experiencing different ways of life, rather than mere fact-taking.
TATARSTAN WAY OF LIFE
The ultimate, and unlimited, resource for the growth of Tatarstan tourism industry, we proposed, was the authentic regional way of life: a product of an ancient civilization, different ethnicities, equal measures of traditional Islam and Christianity, spread over fertile lands and river throughways. It brought about an intriguing and genial blend of wisdoms, ways of living, and rules of conduct. Developing the authentic Tatarstan lifestyle in its modern interpretation was the key to unlocking the region’s tourism potential. Tourist infrastructure and brand communication had to follow this cultural blueprint.
THE NEXT TASK WAS TO COMMUNICATE THE UNIQUENESS OF TATARSTAN IN A WAY THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE TO A MODERN TRAVELLER.
We distilled the rich mixture of Tatarstan way of life to a core ingredient that encapsulates a visitor’s experience. The archetypal attribute of Tatarstan people is arguably a balance of focused effort and thorough relaxation. A visitor would only see the relaxation side, like a guest at a traditional Tatar wedding. Guests would be served an endless number of treats, all offered in a gentle and non-obliging way, the whole purpose of the event being their pleasure. The guests would satiate their stomachs and their spirits, and have no idea how many sleepless nights the hosts had spent preparing the feast for them. The guests’ experience is an ample illustration to the Visit Tatarstan brand core idea: Tatarstan: Land of 1001 Delights. For visitors, this idea promises abundance of pleasant discoveries, with a hint of Eastern culture. For the domestic tourism industry, however, it is a shared vision of the future and motivation for the considerable effort to create a multitude of visitor experiences.
The visual identity for Visit Tatarstan brand derived from the core idea, and its tonality of rich, flexible, active, complex and harmonious. Visit Tatarstan brand identity and visual style were created in cooperation with the domestic industry professionals and local artists and graphic designers.
BRAND IDENTITY IN ACTION
The industry embraced the results and started implementing them instantly in their marketing campaigns. Tatarstan Prime minister Ildar Khalikov acknowledged tourism as the strategic growth industry for the region. Colleges and universities have started embedding Visit Tatarstan ideology in their hospitality industry courses.
THREE PILLARS OF INDUSTRY TRANSFORMATION
Visit Tatarstan will grow further in three parallel strands. One is continued fostering of the authentic lifestyle, or modern interpretation of traditional methods or local materials in areas such as cuisine, music, fashion, and architecture. Another is continued improvement of the availability and quality of tourist infrastructure, with the focus on brand attributes (abundance, safety, personal attention). The third is communication, including creation of fully-fledged Brand Experience products, marketing campaigns outside the region, and outreach to the local public to make so that they supported tourism and embraced Visit Tatarstan values and ideology.