Ivan Liptuga is from the beautiful Ukrainian Black Sea resort town of Odessa in southern Ukraine. It’s known for its beaches and 19th-century architecture, including the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater. The monumental Potemkin Stairs, immortalized in “The Battleship Potemkin,” lead down to the waterfront with its Vorontsov Lighthouse. Running parallel to the water, the grand Primorsky Boulevard is a popular promenade lined with mansions and monuments.
Ivan Liptuga, head of the National Tourism Organization of Ukraine, has been the face for Ukraine Tourism at international events even before and during the COVID crisis, but the situation today has changed.
When tension began between Ukraine and Russia, Ivan was the one who brought tourism leaders together and believed in a peaceful solution; this happened just a week before Russia invaded his beloved country.
Not giving up and keeping the spirit of tourism and friendship alive, Ivan kept the conversation going. In a recent initiative hosted by World Tourism Network with SKAL International Romania, he became the focus point of the conversation on how tourism and peace is connected. He contributed to a practical approach to assist in the growing refugee crisis his country is currently facing. SKAL Romania set an example.
In the meantime, Ivan contributed from the inside and through his leadership. His family has been cooking for dozens of Ukrainian soldiers while defending his country in the war.
Dr. Peter Tarlow, President of WTN, congratulated Ivan for becoming the latest WTN Hero. He said: “In the face of one of the world’s most tragic wars, Ivan has been the face of tourism – a steady hand showing the world the spirit of his country and how tourism can help to heal the world.”
World Tourism Network VP for International Relations Alain St. Ange said: “Ivan Liptuga of Ukraine is awarded our Tourism Hero Award. The World Travel Network has been following the effort and dedication of the ‘men on the ground’ in the Ukraine in their work to keep the Ukraine and its culture as a proud country of the Community of Nations.”
Alain St.Ange, said after the decision was made to award Ivan Liptuga the Tourism Hero award, the world needs to continue to recognize those who have gone above and beyond their own duty and responsibilities when faced in the most difficult of adversity. “Ivan Liptuga is one such person and it is our duty to recognise him,” St.Ange stated.
Nancy Barkley, head of the WTN Destination Wedding group added: “Ivan Liptuga is a tourism hero. He has been a consistent leader and taken action for the National Tourism Organization of Ukraine, even under the heartbreaking conditions of war. I look forward to congratulating him in person.”
WTN Chairman Juergen Steinmetz concluded: “If anyone in the history of the World Tourism Network should receive our Hero Award at this time, it is Ivan. He understands the importance of tourism being the custodian of world peace. He loves his beautiful country; he is a patriot and an ambassador. He is the face and a symbol of all the good and fun that travel and tourism stands for in a normal world. He still believes in tourism and the goodness of people in this very dangerous and no longer normal world. We applaud him and are honored to express our appreciation, our gratitude, and our award.
“Ivan told World Tourism Network members to scream for Ukraine, and we do. I would also like to encourage all our public sector members and some organizations that are standing back and wanted to be politically correct, to stand up and scream with Ivan. This is not the time to hold back – this is a real threat,” Steinmetz concluded.