Ketu ry

Project presented at the World Village event in Helsinki

June 20th, 2018

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Our Azerbaijan-Finland cooperation project was presented at the annual World Village Festival in May at the joint stand with Global Dry Toilet Association of Finland.

Two students Rustam Najafzade and Agasaf Ahmadov from Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University were in Erasmus+ exchange at KAMK during spring 2018 semester. They had a chance to participate the impressive civil society event bringing visible all the work done by volunteers in associations, NGOs and other organization for good causes like environment, multicultural cooperation, development aid, sustainable development, human rights, etc. This is the students view of the event:

“World Village Festival took place in Helsinki this year. We- two exchange students from Azerbaijan in Finland were representing our homeland in this fair.

We’d like to mention that the atmosphere in this fair was just simply amazing. In spite of 26 of May was too hot in Helsinki, there were a lot of people and not only local people, but also tourists. When we arrive to the Kaisaniemi park (where fair was held) we met so many flags, people, nice music. There were tents dedicated to different themes like- sustainable tourism, world of books, marketing possibilities, visit Finland and so on.

We had books about tourism of Azerbaijan and we put them on our stand. So many people visited our stand to know Azerbaijan and its tourism. We gave them brief information. There were not only visitors from Finland, but also from Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Armenia, Russian Federation, Ireland and so on. They had big interest against our stand. Also we had chance to get to know different stands of different countries here. We could taste food, listen music, watch their national dances.”

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Photos: Kaisa Merilahti, Rustam Najafzade and Agasaf Ahmadov

Article published in journal

May 2nd, 2018

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An article about KeTu’s project topic was published in the journal of Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University. The article was written by Ms Anna Viirelä, based on her Bachelor’s thesis in Hospitality Management. Anna Viirelä did her thesis research for the project “Development of Sustainable Tourism and Support of Local Handicrafts in the Rural Azerbaijan” and graduated in 2017 from Kajaani University of Applied Sciences.

Anna Viirelä: Marketing prerequisites of rural Azerbaijan’s traditional handicrafts through purchasing process.
Tourism and hospitality studies. International Journal. Volume 6, Number 4, 2017.

The journal can be downloaded here:

http://atmu.edu.az/images/atmuedua/science/journals/jurnal-17.pdf 

Read here more about Anna’s data collection trip to project location in Sheki, Azerbaijan in November 2016: Exploring Azerbaijan.

The research supports project’s goals to develop sustainable tourism in order to provide income especially for the women entrepreneurs in rural and remote areas of Azerbaijan. By publishing the article in Azerbaijan Tourism journal, the results can better reach its target audience.

Evaluation of the Azerbaijan project

December 10th, 2017

The evaluation team along with two Azerbaijan Tourism University students who volunteered as guides during a walk through the Old City in Baku.

In November, an evaluation team visited Azerbaijan to familiarize themselves with the development of the project strategy, the stakeholders involved in the project as well as Quba – a region at the foot of the Caucasus mountains recently included in the scope of the project. The team consisted of a colourful mix of representatives from universities of applied sciences, the entrepreneurial private sector and NGOs, giving the evaluation a wide perspective.

The week-long journey started in the capital city of Baku, where the team met with representatives of the Azerbaijan Tourism University as well as teachers and students. Representatives of the national tourism association were also present along with Aytan Poladova of the Ekoloji Tarazliq NGO – an established coordinator involved with the project. The focus of the meetings were the steps taken during the past year to further the development of rural tourism in Azerbaijan – of which the development of a national standard for rural tourism operators being developed by the tourism ministry in order to standardise and raise the level of rural tourism services and products and the planned year-long educational programme in various rural areas around the country to develop the capacity of rural citizens to engage with the tourism industry merit special mention.

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The goal of the project is to further the development of sustainable tourism in the rural regions of Azerbaijan as well as support and encourage entrepreneurship among rural women. Such entrepreneurship usually ties heavily into the making and selling of traditional handicrafts and homestay-style accommodation. Even though several regions around Azerbaijan are included in the project, the evaluation was primarily aimed at the recently added region of Quba. In Quba, the team was hosted by the coordinator of the local tourism resource center Eynulla Xeyrullayev, who introduced the various developmental initiatives in the region. One such initiative is the establishment of a new cultural center for exhibitions and courses to transfer knowhow to younger generations.. Local handicraft entrepreneurs will also be able to sell their wares through the center.

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Like many other regions around Azerbaijan, Quba has it’s own specific focus in handicrafts – carpets. The team visited a local carpet weaving workshop which exemplifies many of the aims of the project; entrepreneurship among women, furthering equality and preservation and promotion of local cultural traditions. Local women weave carpets in the workshop using patterns and images based on a year-long period of research where they visited villages in the region to search for, catalogue and photograph old carpets. The workshop also engages significantly in education in Quba and the surrounding villages. The team had the opportunity to travel to the mountain village of Alpan where a new training center had recently been constructed with USAID-funding, giving sixty young Alpan residents the opportunity to study handicraft techniques. The workshop plans to expand its educational and entrepreneurial efforts to cooking classes and culinary tourism, which the evaluation team thought would be an excellent strategy.

At the carpet weaving workshop in Quba.

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At the training center in Alpan.

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Towards the end of the trip, the evaluation team returned to Baku. The discussion that began in Quba regarding a proposed packaged travel product continued in Baku amidst the last wrap-up meetings. The development, implementation and afterwards, evaluation of this proposed test of a rural tourism product was deemed to be of great importance as the project moves into its next phase – the implementation of the strategy drafted during the past year. Among the areas of development are the creation of turism products and service concepts and the networking and cooperation of operators in the tourism industry. The evaluation team sees great potential for the future of the project – especially in the Quba region – as much of the infrastructure necessitated by the development of rural tourism is already in place.

Pictures: Kaisa Merilahti, Johannes Paavola
Text: Johannes Paavola

New publications

July 27th, 2017

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KeTu’s project ‘Development of Sustainable Tourism and Support of Local Handicrafts in the Rural Azerbaijan’ has released two new publications in English.

Tourism student Anna Viirelä from Kajaani University of Applied Sciences wrote her Bachelor’s thesis on marketing prerequisites of rural Azerbaijan’s traditional handicrafts. You can read the thesis here.

In addition, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences made a joint online publication focusing on internationalization topics.  The publication includes an article with the topic ‘How to combine a R&D project with Erasmus+ mobility – case Azerbaijan’. You can find the publication here.

The project is implemented in cooperation between Sustainable Future NGO, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) and Ekoloji Tarazliq NGO (EKOT) as the local partner.

 

Promoting women entrepreneurship in rural handicrafts

July 27th, 2017

KeTu’s project in Azerbaijan supports women handicraft makers to develop their businesses and earn more income by selling the traditional azeri handicraft to tourists in rural areas. Here you can find some photos of the women involved in the project activities together with the project staff members.

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The upper photos are taken in Guba which is located in the Northern part of Azerbaijan. The lowest picture is taken in Kokolos-village in Astara region in South of Azerbaijan.

 

Photos: Aytan Poladova, project coordinator in Azerbaijan

 

Experience of teacher involved in Azerbaijan project

May 23rd, 2017

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I had the pleasure of becoming involved in the project “Development of Sustainable Tourism and Support of Local Handicrafts in the Rural Azerbaijan” already in 2015, when I was teaching a group of Finnish and International business students a basic course in strategic marketing management.

We gave the students the task to create a strategic marketing plan for developing sustainable rural tourism in Azerbaijan. A rather challenging assignment since the students did not know much about the country. The project however went quite well and the marketing plans we made were well received by the project management team.

The “Azerbaijan Project” continued for me in 2017 when I was given the opportunity to go on Erasmus+ funded teacher exchange to the Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University in Baku.
Because of the project we decided that the topic of my lecturing would be sustainable tourism in general but with some focus on Azerbaijan.

The lecturing consisted of four 80 min lectures for four different groups of first and second year students. Each group consisted of 15-20 students from the English language program.
In addition to the lectures in sustainable tourism I also had an opportunity to take part in a seminar and workshop on sustainable rural tourism in Azerbaijan. I gave a lecture on marketing planning in general and how the theories can be applied to marketing sustainable rural tourism. After the lecture the participants, which mostly were students from the university, did some group works, were they could apply some of the theories.

In spite of some minor challenges with scheduling and other practical matters, I think that combining teacher exchange and this project was an interesting experiment and a great experience for me and it was hopefully beneficial for all stakeholders.

The concept is well worth developing further. However, careful and thorough planning, preparation and good communication between all the stakeholders is a prerequisite for best possible outcome.

Text: Jan Mitts, lecturer in Tourism, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

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