Russian visitors get tourism insight

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— The 11 men and women who gathered in a semicircle around Kahromon Pirmuhamedov on Wednesday afternoon came a long way to hear him speak.

They listened intently as Pirmuhamedov, a 22-year-old employee at Ramada Vacation Suites Hilltop, explained his role as a hotel room inspector in relation to Ramada's overall operation.

His simple explanation might have seemed somewhat uninteresting to locals, but to the visitors seated before him, his insight was invaluable.

This group of hotel and resort general managers and owners from Russia wants to learn as much as it can about hospitality Steamboat Springs' style.

Pirmuhamedov, who moved from Uzbekistan about nine months ago, was able to converse with the delegates in his native tongue.

"They wanted to know what I did here and how it was different from where I came from," he said.

It's that difference between U.S. and Russian hotels and resorts that Alexander Tulupov said he wants to learn about during his stay in Colorado.

He runs a hotel in Tyumen, a Russian city in western Siberia, and hosts foreign businessmen and several conventions throughout the year.

"It's interesting to come to the country which has become the pioneer of resort industry development," Tulupov said. "I want to find out the thing that makes industry in this country so different choice."

Svetlana Vassilieva is leading the group, and along with another translator who assists with Russian-English translation.

"The idea of the program is that Russian businessmen come to the U.S. and get some new experience and some new ideas," Vassilieva said.

The 11 men and women will return to their country with better knowledge of financial, resort and recreational management, accounting and cash flow, she said.

"When they come back hopefully they will be able to apply the new ideas and help to uplift the Russian economy," Vassilieva added.

Until they return on Nov. 4 to their four- and five-star hotels throughout Russia, the Russian delegates will be visiting restaurants, resorts and hotels in Steamboat Springs, Keystone, Aspen, Vail and Glenwood Springs for hands-on instruction in improving their businesses.

Classroom training will also be conducted on college campuses in each location.

Colorado Mountain College's Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) first hosted the program in 1999.

The second time around should provide the delegates with an enhanced understanding of how the tourist and resort industry successfully operates in the United States, CMC Resort Management Professor Terry Hunter said.

Hunter accompanied the Russian executives on a tour of the Ramada Hilltop and the Steamboat Grand Hotel on Wednesday.

The Russian participants bring their own business experience and education to the table, he added.

"This is their chance to take what they already know and find how they can best operate their businesses in a free market," Hunter said.

The San Francisco-based Center for Citizens Initiative coordinates programs like CMC's, which is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration to foster local, state, national and international economies.

Families in Steamboat Springs, Vail and Glenwood Springs are hosting the delegates in their homes in partnership with Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in Steamboat Springs, Vail and Glenwood Springs arranged host families and transportation for the delegates throughout their three-week stay.

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