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How industrial tourism leads domestic brands to technological sovereignty

How is technological sovereignty related to industrial tourism? What is patriotism and why do businesses need self-promotion? This is the topic of our conversation with analyst of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research, Candidate of Economic Sciences Irina Rusak.

Ирина Русак

— Technological sovereignty is a rather complex category, which implies the right of the government to define national interests in the scientific and technological sphere and ensure their implementation. The main goals are to strengthen the country's economic potential, accelerate development, transit to a new technological order, and the opportunity to compete on the external circuit.

Belarus has the necessary human resources and scientific potential for this. For example, some of the equipment for critical products output can be manufactured in our country, the rest – in Russia, China, etc.

To ensure technological sovereignty, enterprises should more widely communicate their needs and capabilities. Industrial tourism can be one of the ways. According to surveys conducted by BISR, the brand of Belarus is associated with industry, giant factories. Each region of the country has a large enterprise that can become a regional growth point in the field of industrial tourism. This is a kind of incentive for industrial tourism development in Belarus with possible access to the Union State level.

– Who should be interested in popularizing production and what sort of bonuses is it?

– Industrial tourism has been actively developing in our country since 2015. Large enterprises for a long time have been organizing interesting excursions to production facilities for various target audiences – from schoolchildren to foreign tourists. Many have created models in their museums showing technological chains and samples of finished products. According to official data, in the field of industrial tourism in 2023, excursions were organized for almost 190 thousand people, of which 93.5 thousand tourists visited the enterprises of the Ministry of Industry, Bellegprom — 11.7 thousand, Belgospishcheprom — about 40 thousand, the Ministry of Construction and Architecture — about 44.5 thousand people.

Today, organizations started looking at industrial tourism in a different way. They develop and popularize not only their brand, but also their country, and focus on investment attractiveness. However, there is still a certain information hunger – there is a shortage of excursions advertising, announcements, etc.

Potentially, more than 150 enterprises in the country can provide industrial tourism services. The most visited are BELAZ, MTZ, Kommunarka, Gomselmash, Neman, Alivaria, Zorka, Luch, Turov Dairy Plant, Belkhudozhkeramika, Polesie, Kristall and others.

Private tour operators offer day trips with visits to the production facility in the average price range — 50-150 rubles per person. At the same time, almost every tourist wants to take away a local souvenir, merch, or buy finished products, which gives an extra income to the company. But the most important thing that people want is to see with their own eyes how items they use in everyday life are produced.

Potential benefits should be considered from the perspective of the enterprise, local authorities, and the public.

For a manufacturer, it is the popularization of a product or a service, an opportunity to provide more information about production and conclude a profitable deal on financing or exporting products, and, of course, a way to provide career guidance to young people for their subsequent employment.

For local authorities, this is an investment in the territory development, increasing the region's economy, as well as a contribution to the civic and patriotic education of children and youth. For the population, it is an incentive for business development in the region, which will increase its recognition, form people's value recognition of pride in their small homeland and country.

For example, Russia is developing the patriotism of industry. For schoolchildren, they conduct excursions to successful enterprises, show production process, finished products and thereby form a loyal attitude to working specialties, take children out of the digital environment into objective reality.

Бренд Беларуси

– How does the petrochemical complex fit into this plan?

– It has been involved in industrial tourism for a long time. And not only factories, but also, for example, gas stations of Belorusneft Production Association, which are distinguished by high quality products and services, including catering. These are generally convenient places not only for cars refueling, but also for recreation, catering for tourists, moreover, a ready-made infrastructure taking into account the quality of roads. Gas stations should be more widely used as stopping points along the route of excursions to the enterprise or to an iconic historical place.

You can combine industrial and gastronomic tourism or specially bring tourists to sponsored agricultural organizations of large petrochemical enterprises, treat them with agricultural food and sell food products to them, and, if possible, demonstrate the process of their manufacture. The main thing is to adjust a flow of excursions. Now, the population has a request to see something new inside the country.

– BISR interacts with the Russian Agency for Strategic Initiatives in the field of industrial tourism development. How is it developing in Russia?

— For the last two years, our Institute has been actively studying the ASI's experience in industrial tourism development. The Agency has launched an acceleration program for industrial tourism development as a mechanism for improving the image of Russian enterprises and forming consumer loyalty to the products of Russian brands. State resources have been allocated for the development of industrial tourism. There is also such a bonus as tax benefits for enterprises. The number of industrial excursions has increased significantly, and interregional cooperation between enterprises has strengthened. Bloggers and opinion leaders joined the process. As a result, such excursions are now on trend among Russian youth. The popularization of industrial tourism led to the fact that in 2023 more than 1 million people visited Russian enterprises, with only 200-250 thousand in 2021.

Enterprises saw opportunities for the exchange of experience, technologies, and the organization of work with personnel. Industrial tourism has reached the level of investment attractiveness. A huge number of people are ready to visit these enterprises. Excursions to the factories have entailed the popularization of historical and gastronomic tourism. The accompanying infrastructure is being improved on the routes, and a business for the production and sale of souvenirs is developing.

However, not every factory in Russia can engage in industrial tourism. The company should invest certain resources so that experts determine its readiness to provide appropriate services. A special methodology has been introduced for this purpose. If an organization meets the requirements, then its services are safe and comply with quality standards.

As part of the accelerator, competence centers are being created where guides are trained to work in the field of industrial tourism and conduct excursions at enterprises. In Russia, it has already been popularized and upscaled. In Belarus, it is in its infancy.

– What, in your opinion, should be done in Belarus for the successful development of this area?

– Among the difficulties that currently exist, I would like to note the lack of a standard in the field of industrial tourism. Enterprises themselves develop rules and other regulatory documents that are necessary for visiting production facilities of various specifics. Programs are often not adapted to the audience. There is no single mechanism coordinated nation-wide, for launching routes The institutional structure for the development of industrial tourism at the state level has not been fully formed, although the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, the National Tourism Agency, the Interdepartmental Expert Coordination Council for Tourism under the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, and representatives of industrial enterprises have already done much in this direction.

The development and implementation of such a standard in the Year of Quality, in my opinion, would be significant.

Most importantly, there is an understanding today that for the successful operation of production facilities and the development of regions, it is necessary to look for new growth points and improve positioning. And industrial tourism can and should bring tangible benefits.


Svetlana Sabilo. Columnist

PHOTO by Elizaveta Lukashun