Tourism for Development in the Republic of Moldova: Empowering Individuals and Extending the Reach of Globalization

Tourism for Development in the Republic of Moldova: Empowering Individuals and Extending the Reach of Globalization

Marc Pilkington
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0522-8.ch022
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Can globalization be socially inclusive through new 2.0 digital initiatives? This is the thought-provoking question we ask in this article, with a special focus on the Republic of Moldova. Part 1 begins with a reflection on the intersection between globalization, development studies and the current Moldovan context. Part 2 is devoted to the promising field of emergent tourism, and more particularly, tourism 2.0, a blossoming concept that we try to uncover. Part 3 presents a concrete application with the example of Moldova Tours 2.0, a digital initiative in the field of tourism 2.0 in the Republic of Moldova. Various aspects of this project are highlighted and analyzed.
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The Republic of Moldova is a small (33,843 sq. km) relatively densely populated country with a rich History. She gained her independence, and became a sovereign country on 27 August 1991. Moldova is in South East Europe, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania in the north of the Balkan Peninsula. The distance between the North and the South is 350 km, and between the West and the East, 150 km. The Republic of Moldova adopted her constitution in July 1994, and became a democratic republic (endorsing the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers), functioning under the Rule of Law. The legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, which is elected for four year-terms. There have been eight parliamentary elections since 1991. The latest parliamentary elections were held in Moldova on 30 November 2014. The elections were admittedly more a loss than a victory for the pro-European coalition, because center-right parties were obviously divided by sharp tensions. The pro-Russian Socialist Party, comprised of former communists, emerged as the winner of the 2014 elections. It was the strongest party in Parliament, with 20.51% of votes.

Yet, these facts are seldom known outside the small circles of specialists, journalists and commentators of this rather tormented region of the world. But what do people really know about the Republic of Moldova? Will they eventually book a flight to the capital Chisinau? Unfortunately, the Republic of Moldova does not quite enjoy a good reputation abroad: (oft-amplified) stories of poverty, trafficking of human organs, prostitution, and conflicts involving minorities abound.

As the BBC (2015, para12) states:

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and has a large foreign debt and high unemployment. It is heavily dependent on Russia for energy supplies, and Russia has not hesitated to take advantage of this fact as a way of exerting economic pressure on Moldova.

In reality, Moldova presents a more appealing outlook and potential; small roads winding through the vineyards, sunflower fields and verdant pastures, bucolic and romantic waterfalls, beautiful monasteries carved into the limestone cliffs, not to forget the festive spirit that reigns in Chisinau, the capital. Part I will sketch out a synthesis between globalization trends and modern developments in the Republic of Moldova. Part II investigates the issue of tourism, and the underlying causes behind the disappointing figures in this small country. Part III puts forward a groundbreaking socially inclusive 2.0 digital initiative aimed at reconciling the dynamics of globalization with development trends in the Republic of Moldova.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Association Agreement: The Moldova–European Union Association Agreement is a treaty that establishes a political and economic association between the two parties. The association agreement commits Moldova to economic, judicial and financial reforms to converge its policies and legislation to those of the European Union. It was initialled on 29 November 2013 in Brussels. It was signed on 27 June 2014 in Vilnius, and has been provisionally applied since 1 September 2014.

Economic Development: Economic development refers to the sustained, concerted actions of communities and policymakers that improve the standard of living and economic health of a given country. The overall concept of development is complex and multidimensional. It comprises social, economic, cultural, anthropological and technological aspects.

Digital Platform: A digital platform refers to the software or hardware of a website allowing for the interaction of its users.

Tourism: 1. The practice of travelling for pleasure. 2. The business of providing tours and services for tourists.

Tourism 2.0: Tourism 2.0 is the business revolution in the tourism and leisure industry caused by the move to the tourist ecosystem as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is to build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. ( Edu, 2010 ).

Globalization: Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, firms, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. It has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human well-being around the world.

Web 2.0: Web 2.0 is a business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform ( O’Reilly, 2005 ).

Poverty Alleviation: Poverty alleviation is any process that reduces income fluctuation between poor and non-poor scenarios (Adongo and Deen-Swarray, 2006 AU121: The in-text citation "Adongo and Deen-Swarray, 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). This is different from poverty reduction, which aims to permanently move an individual or household from a poor to a non-poor scenario.

Empowerment: First introduced by Barbara Solomon in 1976 as a method of social work with oppressed Afro-American communities, empowerment refers to the ability to gain control over our lives either by ourselves or with the help of others.

Social Inclusion: Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society by empowering poor and marginalized people to take advantage of global opportunities.

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