I. A. Makarenko Internet as a Source of Information on the Arkhangelsk Region: Librarian’s View One of the main tasks of our Conference is creation of new high quality resources which will benefit the attractiveness of our Northern Region in tourists‟ eyes, including the resources that can be integrated into global cyber space. Among all the available for us resources Internet takes a special place. There are several reasons for this; I would pay attention to three of them: - First, Internet is an universal information resource. Its contents is for every user category, covers a huge variety of issues and helps solve lots of different problems; - Second, Internet allows finding a wide range of materials on any topic, covering all aspects of it making it possible to foresee the questions of our users. It is very important when we speak of our services and products promotion; - Third, there is one more unique feature – the presence of search systems that allow finding the necessary information with a great deal of probability. The organizations, professional structures which understand the advantages of Internet over other means of information search have been effectively using the network for a long time to their benefit and thus to the benefit of their profession in general. I will try here to formulate, from the point of view of a librarian, some problems of developing tourist information resources in the Arkhangelsk Region based on our experience in networking. The Arkhangelsk Regional Scientific Library has been working with net resources for several years to meet the information requirements of our users. The Regional Internet space is of a great interest for us, too. We have been constantly monitoring the resources covering to the Arkhangelsk Region, choosing the best of them and filing them into our e-guide “The Arkhangelsk Region in Internet” which is on the Library web-site (www.aonb.ru). The guide contains more than 300 links to net resources on social, economic, political issues of the Region, its culture and history. All the aspects of life of our Region are presented in the Internet differently and the way they are presented allows us to judge what tasks the resource owners had in mind and to predict the results. It is from this standpoint that we tried to analyze our Region Internet resources addressed to tourists. We have divided resources into 6 groups that contain or might contain tourist information: - Municipal institutions‟ sites. - Tourist companies‟ sites. - Tourist complexes‟ sites. - Cultural institutions‟ sites. - Hotels‟ sites. - Topical sites. Here are our brief impressions of each type of the resources. Municipal institutions’ sites It is a pity that few of our towns and districts have their own web-sites. Those which we managed to see are oriented mostly to the local population and do not have much information for their potential guests. There is no detailed information on cultural programmes, excursions and tours. The pages “Tourism” and “Culture” do not seem to have tourists and users in mind: advertisements with accent on beauty or unique nature of some places are side by side with statistics on them, lists of cultural institutions and their managers. Sometimes the descriptions of historical or cultural monuments are as an end in themselves and contain no invitations or information on how to get there. A good exception to this rule is the site of the town of Kargopol. One can see descriptions of historic and cultural heritage, as well as excursion programmes, conditions and accommodation for tourists, links to tourist companies‟ sites, etc. The town of Onega site also has descriptions of tourist routes in the District and addresses of tourist companies. Tourist companies’ sites Information on tourist routes of the Region is offered by several tourist companies “Hermes”, “Veter peremen”, “Travel Club”. As a rule it is a short or detailed description of the routes and very short information on the attractions, sometimes they are too short to interest people who come here for the first time. The most informative is the site of the tourist company “Pomor-Tour”. But they have other problems concerning their site promotion in the Internet. All our attempts to find it brought us to the last year version of the site, though the tourist season of 2005 is in full swing! The districts of our Region again are presented by Kargopol only (the tourist companies “Lache” and “Kargopol Tour”). Their sites contain much historical and reference materials, tourists‟ comments – all these produce a favourable impression on the District and their hospitality. Tourist complexes’ sites We call tourist complexes such big objects when in one area there are historical, cultural or natural places of interest, hotels and tourist bases close to them. Their sites are the most tourists targeted resources; they have good navigation systems, give full information on monuments and places of interest – history of the reserve, its climate, description of museum collections, excursion schedules and other possibilities to have a good rest. The first here are the sites of the Solovetsky State Museum-Reserve and “Golubino” Tourist Complex which is situated on the territory of the Pinega Reserve. It is a pity other natural reserves do not have their own sites. The insufficient information on them is presented on the sites of nature preservation institutions and is not meant for tourists. As for Cultural institutions‟ sites we have in view first of all the sites of museums. The majority of the museums in the Arkhangelsk Region do not present themselves in the Net. Those who have web-sites do not announce sometimes how to get to the museum or their admittance hours. Strange enough, but this information can be found on the central Moscow server “Museums of Russia”. One of the interesting examples of museums sites is the site of the Mikhail Lomonosov Museum. We must also note the site of the Solvychegodsk Historical Museum of Fine Arts. Actually it is a guide both on museum and the town of Solvychegodsk, contains formidable amount of information on historic and cultural heritage of the ancient Russian town, it is partly a tourist agency as it gives information on other tourism branches ( including that of a spa), on transportation and accommodation of tourists. I can not but mention libraries’ sites in the Internet. They are not direct sources of tourist information –they are not aimed at it – nevertheless they contain information on history, culture, places of interest of their own region. Having this they to some extent compensate the lack of municipal institutions‟ sites. The most typical example is the Vilegodsky, Konosha and Nyandoma libraries‟ web-sites. Hotels’ sites Only big hotels in Arkhangelsk have their own sites. In many respects they are consistent with standards that are not announced, as a rule there is a possibility to book a room on-line, etc. Hotels‟ sites usually have no information for tourists; an exception is the Pur-Navolok Hotel‟s site. It is a pity that not a single tourist company in the Region lists hotels on their sites. But the Moscow web-server has an e-guide “Hotels in Russia” where one can find names and whereabouts of more than 30 hotels in Arkhangelsk and the Arkhangelsk Region. This is not the only source of hotel information in the Internet. Topical sites Here I can name the only project called “The Arkhangelsk Region – the Pomor Land”, it is the official site of the Regional Tourist Information Centre. The site contains information on tourist potential of the Arkhangelsk Region that is different kinds of tourism, historical, architectural and cultural monuments, tourist routes and excursions. Evidently the task of this resource is to promote the incoming tourism. To fulfil the task in full measure the site should be developed. Today it is descriptive mainly; it gives information on tourist potential but does not help realize it. It contains no information on tour operators in the Region, no maps or services, no reference material or tourist news, etc. In my opinion an ideal site of such kind should be the starting point for any search of regional information which a tourist needs. It should perform the function of a portal, a multifunctional server which contains universal encyclopedic information on the Arkhangelsk Region, digests of regional mass media publications, information on tourist infrastructure, chronology of cultural life, references of any kind and good means of back feed, including interactive possibilities for users. Such sites do exist in the Internet, for example, the site “Karelian Tourist Portal”, “Tourism in the Ivanovo Region”, “Tourist site of the Pskov Region” and others. I hope the tourism professionals know of the Internet All-Russian Festival- Competition “Tourism. Russia. Internet”. I understand there is much to learn from the winners of this competition, the more so the Internet is very generous about people‟s experience as its resources are opened for everyone. To analyze the tourist Internet resources of the Arkhangelsk Region we had in mind just two criteria from many existing: the contents of the site and its environment. I have already expressed our opinion of the contents of the sites. But what is „the site environment‟? It concerns its position among other sites of the same kind, its interrelations with the sites of related topics. The importance of the Internet lies in the unique possibility for the users to wander from site to site using links which enriches the site contents and makes the search easier. It is a pity that our tourist sites exist separately. Practically they are not linked to each other and thus they do not form a general information space which can attract an user, support his or her interest to the Region and give answers to any possible questions. This disconnection of the resources is in my opinion the most serious problem. The existence of a professional tourist society, tourist association should be presented in the Internet. I think our conference is very timely; it gives a good opportunity to hear of new ideas, to see new projects of our colleagues. We who are called up to organize and support tourist industry, to receive and attend to our guests, to work in cultural and information institutions are interested to have a reliable information infrastructure, a joint information resource created by manifold efforts of numerous organizations and people. Our Library is ready to do our bit of work in it. Today the number of users who get information on travels in the Internet grows very quickly. This is why it is not wise to underestimate the role of Internet in popularization of incoming tourism. Professional use of information technologies may become an effective instrument in developing the tourist industry, in making our Region attractive for tourists.
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