Cultural Festivals Attract Tourists to Rural Areas.

Project Success Story | January 10, 2019

Through the efforts of the Moldova Competitiveness Project, a local festival celebrating a traditional Romanian embroidered blouse, or ‘Ia,’ generates more tourism, economic growth, and alternatives to migration. Moldova is now placed as one of Europe’s ‘top-10 must-visit destinations’ in global publications.

The USAID- and Sweden-funded Moldova Competitiveness Project (MCP), in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, and other local organizations, created the Tree of Life agenda — a centralized calendar of cultural events. One component of those events is the IA Mania Festival — a unique festival celebrating the traditional Romanian embroidered blouse, or ‘Ia’. The blouse has reached global popularity in recent years following appropriation by international fashion designers. Tourism represents less than 1% of Moldova’s GDP, but it is a vital engine of economic growth, providing jobs and alternatives to migration in rural areas. Festivals concentrate local food, music, artisans and producers in one place for a limited period of time, creating a strong enough attraction to draw domestic tourists out of urban areas, and providing clear dates for international tourists to plan their trips around. In 2018, MCP doubled the number of featured cultural events to 28, including 17 outside the capital Chisinau.