Monday, June 17, 2013

Russia took the 20th place in Country Branding Ranking 2012

Bloom Consulting Company released a new annual Country Branding Ranking. According to this ranking the USA continues its reign as the world leader in the 2012 Country Brand Ranking both for Trade and for Tourism, the strong overall performance and excellent CBS Rating ensured its’ continued dominance. For the first time, the United Arab Emirates, joined some of the Asian Tiger economies in the top 25 both in the Tourism and Trade Rankings.

Asia performed extremely well in the 2012 Ranking. Eight Asian countries finished in the top 25, with China as number four. Aided by both strong tourism receipts and CBS Ratings, Thailand (6) and Malaysia (14) significantly improved from last year. For the first time, Macao was evaluated as an individual country and finished with a bang at number eight. A notable absence was Japan.

Russia takes the 20th place in this ranking between Croatia and Portugal. The progress is called here “Slightly Strong”.

CBS Rating is calculated using brand strategy economic performance analysis and analysis of Online Search Demand. The country brand strategy is measured through brand tags, the key words that reflect the brand strategy of each country. For the first time in any country or nation brand ranking, Bloom’s Online Search Demand (OSD) is able to show if a country supplies what tourists are seeking, and how well the country is matching this demand.

Brand tags function as the ‘supply’ side of the tourist-destination equation. Thousands of brand tags were collected from each country’s official tourism agency and then classified into 38 different clusters that relate to adventure sports and activities, natural features, local culture and traditions, or gastronomy. Each cluster is assigned an economic value in order to rate the relative returns gained from each brand tag.

Domestic and international tourist searches for the brand tags and related words were then analyzed, country by country, in the most used search engines, to show the country’s accuracy match and quantify Online Search Demand. By considering the OSD, Bloom Consulting is able to show if a country offers what tourists are seeking, and how well the country is matching this demand. This identifies the gap between supply and demand. The more accurate a country is, the better the CBS Rating.
The Ranking for Tourism you can see here - 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discover Latvia. Discover Latvia?

Often inhabitants of Latvia, small country on the Baltic see coast, have a problem how to explain and present their country for other people from all over the world. Sometimes people even don't know where Latvia is situated and often mix it up with Lithuania.

The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia tried to solve this problem and produced promo video "The Journey through Latvia".

The purpose of this video is obvious, to attract investors and foreign companies to launch their business in Latvia. Video creators emphasized six main advantages of their country like a good field for successful business. The geographic situation is profitable: between Russia, Poland, Germany and countries of Scandinavian and Baltic regions. Three international ice-free ports, direct railway Riga - Moscow, more than 65 direct air flights from Riga International Airport and short distances between Riga and European capitals provide good infrastructure.
This video also notes that here is one of the highest enrollment in the world and most competitive workers in the EU, most of them speak three languages. The Investment and Development Agency also reminds about success innovation projects launche in Latvia: pharmaceutical industry, biotech and even some technologies for NASA. Low taxes and simple procedure to start up is also attractive for foreigners, video creators consider. And certainly well favorable ecology situation and high level of culture and art. "Launch your company in Latvia and never look back", says the narrator, and the video ends with words "Discover Latvia".
All it seems very positive and very attractive but real situation is some another and even ordinary Latvia inhabitants say other things about economic and investment attractiveness of their country. The TNS Agency and the LNT TV company made an opinion poll where 700 people took a part. Three-quarters said that unemployment is the most important problem, one half said that it is fast inflation, almost 40% worry about corruption. Two-thirds residents appraised their incomes and financial situation of their families like bad and very bad. The number of people who wants to emigrate from Latvia grows every year. The number of able-bodied people who emigrate from Latvia is in 5 times more than people who immigrate into this country.
Undoubtably Latvia needs new investors but is it possible to improve situation when Latvian government can't decide problems of their own sitizens.

by Valentin Ivanov
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Where to refresh in summer? Examples of interesting city decisions

Summer is coming and inhabitants of big cities are brought up against intense and scorching heat. Fountains, parks and gardens became more popular, but city beaches are the most available and favorite places for people relax. You know the citizens of large megalopolises are deprived of that pleasure to swim in clean rivers or lakes because all water bodies are not only in pollution but often completely dangerous for bathing.

In New York City the problem of lack of relax places was and always will be urgent and topical. There are about 80 beaches in the city and every day 100 000 people go there. You can imagine how banks and coasts transform into rubbish heap during one day.
Neptune Foundation project's organizers created an interesting decision of the problem. In 20th century in the Hudson River there were more than twenty floating bathrooms which were located in populous city districts and where people could take bath regularly. Neptune Foundation architects took this idea from the past to create a modern floating swimming pool for citizens. And it was no necessary to build something new: they just re-equipped an old cargo barge.

In 2005 they bought an old 260 meters barge that worked on the Mississippi river early. Works were started in the Bolinger shipyard, New Orleans, and were finished in Brooklin. The new swimming pool can contain 100 000 liters of water that comes through special filters right from the gulf. The electricity system is completely autonomous and doesn't require communications from the city. Simultaneously 175 people can rest here, there are 7 swimming tracks, children' zone, shower, locker rooms, bar. The whole weight of this construction is 1830 tons. All expenses are $ 4 000 000.

On the opening ceremony this poll was called Floating Pool Lady. More than 50 thousand people visited this place during the first year. In 2008 Neptune Foundation handed over the pool to the New York City administration gratis. The pool is situated on the embankment in Brookline Bridge Park and every winter it returns to the dockyard till the next summer. Organizers want to move the object every summer for all inhabitants of different city district could enjoy bathing and swimming in open air.

City activists around the world realize such bold and extraordinary projects and their main aim is to do territory more attractive for residents and tourists. The problem of lack of bathing and swimming places was decided also in Portuguese city of Guimarães. Fountain Hackers project transformed city fountains into public swimming pools.
Architects and designers wanted to give people a possibility not only to admire the fountains but also to use them, make there places for swimming, rest, sun bathing, washing and even having a dinner. The Fountain Hackers project was created by Like Architects Studio and designer Ricardo Dorado.

Five fountains were remade and every one of them got a name, conception and design. Certainly some of them were re-equipped, for example, stairs and small hills like in swimming pools appeared. Very pretty yellow plank beds appeared in Beach Loung Fountain, where people rest after work. In Barbecue Fountain small tables and umbrellas stay right in water and people can meet each other and have a lunch sitting ankle-deep in fountain. Playroom Fountain are filled of plastic balls from children rooms and you can bath on inflatable mattresses in this colored pool.
The main idea of the project is to remind people that many years ago fountains were used like places for bathing and sources of drinking water but later transformed into decoration items. Like Architects organizers guessed right that their decision will refresh Guimarães life and make city territory more attractive for people rest. 

by Valentin Ivanov

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Penza brand: pro and con

The Russian city of Penza is more and more discussible now on different areas: social networks, professional communities, offices of regional authorities. Issues of Penza’s branding and territorial marketing are under discussion. The new conception “Penza is a territory of discoveries” is about to became a regional brand and this idea already has both followers and opponents.

Development and application of the brand program will be supported by some millions rubles and powerful administrative resources, perhaps it will be the best territorial branding campaign in Russia.

According to researches Penza region has low publicity and fame level, its image is diffused and unspecified. In experts’ opinion Penza doesn’t stand out for other regions and needs modern conception of its promotion. “Penza is a territory of discoveries” was declared as main conception and brand of this region.

Certainly Penza has some advantages such as numerous cultural and social objects, high environment protection, favorable geographical situation and good public security. This region is also famous for significant educational and tourist potential, unique complex of social programs and… mitral valves production.

On the assumption of these factors the conception “Penza is a territory of discoveries” has five certain programs to realize. The first one is “Penza is a territory of innovations and high technologies” or “Penza technocity, this dubious part reminds of that in Russia mitral valves are produced only here. Conception’s authors are sure that this idea will attract investors who interested to develop hi-tech. But Russia has already a lot of science cities, heart as a symbol is unpopular and on the whole Penza has appreciable less science factories as in Soviet Union times.

The second part of the conception is “Penza is the Russian sport capital”. It’s well known that Penza is a native city for some Olympic champions, Penza sportsmen play at very high level in different national and international competitions. But experts doubt whether such project will attract investors and… Penza sportsmen may get tired some day.

“Penza is educational capital of Russia” says the third part of brand conception. This region has some colleges and universities unique for Russia, hence there is high trained potential. But last year five Penza universities got to the list of inefficient ones. Will investors become interested to deal with this field? This is the question.

Penza authorities try to improve environmental problems, thesis “safe city” is a the base of the conception “Penza – Russian ecopolis”. Mere words. Local residents have some doubts about this fact: chemical weapons recycling factory works there. It’s not excluded that some green organization will protest.

The fifth part of conception is “Penza is open territory (or territory for developments)”. Authors consider this formulating is the most capacious and expresses idea exactly. Creative and modern character conforms to world tendencies. It’s not difficult to select infinitely epithets about open authorities, free business development, low corruption, universal values and so on… Even a new logo was created – o’PENза (Open Penza – Открытая Пенза). But this conception is already discovered, Penza has many competitors on this field, for example COPENhagen, Roma – città apperta, Cherepovetz – territory of development. Will investors bite on these common words?

Russian professional community is indignant with conception “Penza is a territory of discoveries”. City branding and territorial marketing experts have a lot of doubts about this program first of all whether usual people were interviewed. Obviously that conception was created without work with inhabitants, has very crude basis and doesn’t present something unique and having perspectives. And which is more the author of this conception is some agency “Region Media” which doesn’t have an experience of territorial marketing and branding and probably will receive ponderable profit for these research and “brand” development.

by Valentin Ivanov

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A new fragrant park appeared in place of dust-heap in Tianjin, China

Turenscape architects created a stable garden system and called it self-generated landscape design, so they transformed former dust-heap into nature corner for Tianjin residents.

Tianjin district is situated in the north-east of China, its population is about 15 million people and there is no speech about good ecology here. This city is an industrial centre of China: petrochemistry, metal processing, automobile, textile industries and others.
For many years there was a great dust-heap on the outskirts. The district got a name of the most criminal. And people required to reform this territory and to improve residents’ lives. In 2003 municipality asked Turenscape Arcitects company to restore this place and in two years new many-tier park Qiaoyuan extended on the area of 23 hectares. Flat and watery spaces, dirty and salty soils don’t give a possibility to plant here exotic and unaccustomed trees and flowers. So architects made some garden spaces and paid an attention to local flora and fauna richness and diversity. Plants are usual for this region and climate, they don’t require a great care. The park made is by special technology which gathers rain-water from neighborhood and carries to plants.
 Besides boggy soil didn’t make it possible to plant a lot of trees, but to make embankment of some meters also was bad because such way it would impossible to see park from the city. So architects decided to make many levels in the Qiaoyuan park: now there are cascades united by bridges. 
The new place for relaxation and seclusion became very popular between residents and guests of the industrial city: more than 200 thousands people visited this place. Qiaoyuan has a lot of terraces situated at different levels, also there are many ponds, grass-plots and flower-beds. Paths and red bridges offer people many variants of routs to go here. The park became a favorite place for families with children and even for biologists and architects who do researches here.
This is not infrequent example of Chinese planting of greenery in depressive territories. Soon in Beijing the International Park and Garden Exhibition will be. On the Beijing south-west in the place of former dust-heap a great park was built: 513 hectares including 246 hectares of an artificial lake. It’s interesting that there was a great sand-pit of 140 hectares which was used for debris.
During three years of building there 12 millions of bushes were planted, former pit transformed into flower valley where eight landscape of the ancient Beijing were depicted. Also many new technologies and materials were used there: watertight bricks on the paths, water saving systems. Thanks to this park an exhibition will be the most dimensioned in the China history. Tianjin and Beijing really demonstrate how many different ways exist to greening dirty industrial zones.
by Valentin Ivanov
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Green invasions

It’s difficult to surprise somebody by enormous impressive installations which appear in cities and small towns all over the world. But sometimes they are so unexpected that can really astonish by their simplicity and creative approach. I want to tell you about two green installations appeared last years in the capital of Peru Lima and in small French village Jaujac.

Marseilles artist Gaëlle Villedary created a project to support environment protection: almost all village’s streets and side-streets became a narrow grass-plot zones. Jaujac is surrounded by forests and rivers, but public spaces there seem very dejectedly. But this installation has covered the whole village’s centre and gave impression of a large park laid out here. It consists of 168 green rolls of total length of 1400 foots. These green paths weight 3.5 tons.

Green paths represent amazing rapprochement of natural and city conditions. Children very liked this grass-plot and it became not only good decoration but very amusing attraction.

The second example of urban environment is Peruvian capital Lima. Some years ago a city authority announced a competition for the best transformation of urban space, and the project “Invasion Verde” (Green Invasion) won and was realized.

Three Lima architects took into account a fact that Lima has very small square of green recreation zones. According to World Health Organization the green standard is 8 square meters per one citizen but in Lima it’s less in more than 4 times: 1.98 square meters.

Creative group established a park right in the city centre on the Pasaje Encarnacion (Incarnation Street). Small knolls covered by grass and green sittings were very liked by people. During the building architects and designer used second materials: car tires, altered plastics, wood.

Plants and grass also was selected carefully: they must be drought-resistant and maximally useful: they were combined a way to extract more oxygen. As a result ivy, money tree, betel palm and snake plant were planted.

As you can see these two ways of struggle with gray city reality are too simple but very eficient. Unexpected creations can change environment image sharply and attract attention to a problem.

by Valentin Ivanov

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bilbao: how did a god-forsaken hole became a world-wide city

When architects and urbanists speak about Bilbao effect they mean a phenomenon of regeneration and revival of depressive territory after building there some extraordinary architectural performance. Let’s find out how Spanish city of Bilbao recovered its lost reputation and became a mecca for industrial and creative classes. What is the main reason of regeneration: stupendous ideas and people’s wishes or just fabulous money?

Today it’s difficult to determine the foundation date of Bilbao. There are references going to III or II century A.D., but most of historians incline to XI-XII century when small fisherman’s hamlet got a town status. Gradually Bilbao developed and became one of the biggest Spanish sea ports, by the XIX century after iron ore deposit displaying and after industrial revolution the city became large commercial centre in Spain, in the XX century it was the best-off city there, banks and insurance companies founded in this city. Runaway industry attracted a lot of immigrants and Bilbao population increased actively.

But in 70s Bilbao’s golden years finished, world commercial ways changed, 20% of population were unemployed, and in addition a great flood in 1983 destroyed an important part of territory, thousands people died. Heavy economic crisis began there, Bilbao was really a god-forsaken hole. 
The situation cardinally changed after 1997 when American architect Frank Gehry built in Bilbao a department of famous Guggenheim Museum, significant place of modern art. Architect would not be satisfied by usual restoration of spaces and offered his own project, too unimaginable. Result surprised any skeptics: technically perfect building has fluent lines, plastic unusual forms, light’s plays. $75,000,000 is the cost of Guggenheim Museum, where and how Basques got that unbelievable money is a great answer.

A lot of significant architects had a hand in Bilbao development and buildings. Santiago Calatrava built a white bridge “Subisuri”, Norman Foster built subway which today has two lines. Airport terminal, eco-tram lines, a lot of pedestrian zones, new flyovers, parks, also appeared there. Transport infrastructure was improved, river Nervion was cleaned, territories suffered from the flood were restored. 
The reason of such high costs is Basque regionalism or separatism, the system when a lot of taxes don’t go to Madrid but keep on the territory and expend for local development. Four millions tourists visited Bilbao during three years after Guggenheim Museum opening, tourism gave $89,000,000, and in tote during four years Bilbao’s budget got $455,000,000.
Often endeavors to reiterate Bilbao’s experience are unsuccessful. It’s necessary to find approach to city and its residents, take into account its individuality, economic features and at the end history of territory. Great architectural creations are like excuses of incredible investments but without above-listed factors it will be impossible to cover costs.

By Valentin Ivanov
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