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Vilnius mayor promotes his city

  • 2001-05-31
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas has brought a new style of management to the Vilnius municipality. This millionaire and former businessman in his early thirties goes to his office on bicycle in the mornings. However, the new style is seen not only in Zuokas' manner, it is also present in the municipality's business activities.

Now Zuokas' nearest target is the North Europe Property and Investment Exhibition. It will take place in Copenhagen on June 6 and will include several delegates from large European cities.

Zuokas, together with a film crew, circled above Vilnius in a helicopter recently, making a film for the exhibition. "It is not enough to present the audience with technical drawings. They would be too complicated for non-professionals. The film will show the Copenhagen conference a view of Vilnius. Computer graphics will present the forthcoming projects in this film. It will make it possible to imagine the influence of new skyscrapers and other construction to the environment and city dwellers," Zuokas said.

The projects are: a bridge over the Neris River from Vrublevskio Street; a new municipality office on the right bank of the Neris; renovation of the concert and sports arena and the Zalgiris football stadium; a bypass to the west of Vilnius; a commercial center at the intersection of Kalvariju and Seimyniskiu streets; and others.

The total price tag of the proposed projects is 1 billion litas ($250 million).

Zuokas did not forget another Vilnius gold mine - tourism. He has launched an unprecedented advertising campaign in Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga.

Trams in the Finnish capital were covered with signs stating in Finnish that Vilnius has "unforgettable harmony and charm."

Tallinn and Riga are covered with similar posters. The promotion campaign in Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga costs the Vilnius municipality 90,000 litas, though entire campaign costs 250,000 litas.

"Part of the campaign is paid by private Vilnius businessmen," Zuokas said.

It is not a waste of money, he emphasized. Zuokas argued that Vilniusites overestimate foreigners' knowledge about their city. "Estonians are surprised when they find out that Vilnius has an Old Town," Zuokas said. He also added his belief that "Vilnius is the safest city in Europe." Zuokas argued that being a journalist and businessman he has traveled a lot and stands by the claim.