Ten visitors from the former Soviet republic of Moldova arrived in Iowa today for a three-week stay. Alec Zava, of the Iowa Council for International Understanding, is organizing the trip. He says each of the ten Moldovans is involved with tourism. The group includes travel agents, owners of bed and breakfasts, a former member of the Moldovan parliament, the head of the association of tourist agencies, and a professor who teaches tourism at the Moldovan Academy of Economic Studies. Zava says the focus of the trip is tourism as the struggling tiny nation looks to Iowa for guidance in capitalizing on its bountiful rural attractions. They’ll visit an inn and winery in Indianola, Living History Farms in Urbandale, Garst Farm Resorts in Coon Rapids, the Raccoon Valley Bank, a farm in Minburn and the communities of Adel, Winterset, Pella and Perry. The visitors will also meet with various tourism and historical groups, small business owners and will visit the state capitol. While some Iowans may be unfamiliar with Moldova, Zava says there are many similarities between that eastern European country and Iowa.It’s the second smallest of the 15 former Soviet republics and is one-quarter the size of Iowa, located between Ukraine and Romania. It’s a very rural country and it’s main economic staple is agriculture. The Iowa Council for International Understanding has hosted more than 350 visitors from various countries on this sort of trip over the past eight years.
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