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Sofia Ambassadors: Arianna Codemo

Meet Arianna Codemo – our wonderful Erasmus exchange student from Italy.

Arianna Codemo is 22, student at ITS Tourism Academy in Jesolo, specializing in hospitality and management. She has been a valuable part of our team for the last 3 months and we do believe we have managed to attract one more keen ambassador of Sofia.

 

How did you end up at Sofia Investment Agency?

This year, during my studies, I learned that the students of my school would be given the great chance to apply for the Erasmus + project for the second compulsory academy internship we must do.  And so, I decided to apply for it. I thought: “The Commission would never choose me, but I would really like to have an experience abroad! If they only choose me…”. To cut the long story short, a number of students were selected, me among them. I suppose I should have been more positive and self-confident (traits that I’m currently working on). The Commission must have noticed my motivation for self-improvement and my thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to my favourite sector – tourism in general and tourism promotion and marketing in specific.

I could choose from a list of different destinations, but I decided to have this brand new experience here, in Sofia – a city that really fascinates me for its rich culture and beautiful landscapes. The Erasmus + project staff and my Bulgarian tutor in Sofia suggested that I do my internship at Sofia Investment Agency, as it promotes and encourages city development from a business perspective, and supports many different industries such as tourism, education and urban development among others.

 

What projects did you work on during the stay at the Agency?

– During my stay at the Agency I worked on various interesting projects and had to deal with diverse tasks. Every year the Agency publishes a new edition of the “Tourism and Air Transport Market” report and the “Sofia Business Guide“. I helped my colleague Ana, who is the person in the team who is in charge of collecting and updating the information about the development of the tourism sector in Sofia, to collect new data and statistics. I learned a lot about Sofia’s economic development and its various priority industries. Finding relevant data and analysing it is not a simple task. However, if we want to promote and make the city attractive for potential investors and tourists, we must provide them with all the information they may need.

Another project I was involved in was the Chatbot project that aims to facilitate the work of the team and to make the Agency’s website more attractive and efficient. The various stakeholders that need information about Sofia will be able to refer to the chatbot system first, and it will answer their questions and provide them with information prepared by our team. What is more, the Invest Sofia team will always be there for the stakeholders to provide them with any kind of further information and assistance!

I mainly worked on the aspects of the chatbot system related to the tourism sector, as well as to Sofia’s transport end connectivity.

Another interesting project I worked on was Sofia’s application for “European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020” title. This year Sofia is one of the participants in this great initiative evaluating candidate cities all across Europe in terms of their sustainability, accessibility, cultural heritage and digitalisation. In August we will find out whether Sofia will become the new smart city tourism capital of Europe!

Moreover, I actively participated at the Webit.Festival 2019 – an international technological and innovation event, one of the biggest in Europe, taking place in Sofia. It was my first time participating in an event of such scale. Sofia Investment Agency was in charge of many of the organizational aspects related to Sofia’s Place – the exhibition space at the Festival dedicated to the city, and I’m very glad that I was involved in many of the organisational activities and processes.

I also had the great opportunity to spend a day with “Sofia Tourism Administration”, part of Sofia Municipality. I asked a lot of questions and the Sofia Tourism Administration team shared a lot of useful information and valuable insights about the development of the tourism sector in Sofia that I used for my school graduation project. The discussions we had were very inspiring, and the ideas, suggestions and knowledge I acquired during my stay were really important for me!

The IT and innovation sector is a key industry for Sofia, and Sofia Investment Agency was one of the exhibitors during the “DigitalK” conference. During the two-day event we met with various international and local stakeholders, a lot of new start-ups, and potential investors.

I also had the great chance to visit the “Nu Boyana Film Studio” in Sofia. It was an amazing experience! I saw the places where some hit films such as Rambo 5, the Expendables and Hercules were shot. Nu Boyana Film Studio is very big and modern, and we could visit Ancient Rome and London without actually leaving Sofia! The ancient Roman Colosseum and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London are really impressive, and they looked so real! I was happy to learn that Nu Boyana Film Studio also has its own academy, where young creative people can start their film-making career.

 

What specific cases and policies about the city did you find interesting?

While working at Invest Sofia, I found out that Sofia Municipality is putting a lot of effort in supporting digitalisation and innovation. There are numerous initiatives dedicated to smart city development, infrastructure renewal, rejuvenation of the city centre, and digitalisation of various industries, such as tourism. Sofia Municipal Council adopted the Sofia Smart Specialisation Strategy (ISSS) in the beginning of 2016. The Strategy reflects the new dynamics and market requirements, and aims at enhancing the added value and competitiveness of the capital city’s economy on the international markets.

Sofia is developing as an innovation and IT hub. The growth of the IT sector leads to the organization of international congresses and festivals in Sofia, such as Webit and DigitalK.

It was interesting for me to learn that Sofia Investment Agency is in charge of coordinating Sofia’s participation in the “Digital Cities Challenge” project – an initiative by the European Commission, aiming to support and enhance digitalisation in Europe and uniting over 40 cities. Sofia Investment Agency is currently working on developing Sofia’s Digitalization Strategy with the support of the participants of the DCC project and various stakeholders from the public and private sector.

Sofia Municipality is actively developing the city transport system. A new third metro line will be accessible in 2020, more than 50 buses have already been replaced with new zero-emission ones, and a new improved bilingual tourist orientation system will soon be available. In terms of tourism digitalization, an innovative augmented reality app for Android was recently developed: “SofiaAR” makes use of AR technology to revive cultural and historical attractions in Sofia.

During my internship at Sofia Investment Agency I learned so much about the city! Sofia has more than 7000 years of history from Roman, Thracian and Byzantium times, and so many fascinating stories and places to share with tourists from all around the world! It is also one of the most ancient capitals in Europe. Moreover, I had no idea that Sofia is one of the cities with the highest number of trees per capita and parks in Europe! This is great because a big capital city with so many industries and developing infrastructure like Sofia should also have a beautiful and green urban environment.

Sofia has a big tourism potential: cultural, leisure and business tourism have been steadily growing and developing in the last years.

 

Did you get any new ideas about your future career or professional development from your work here?

My internship at Sofia Investment Agency helped me to realise that although I want to focus mainly on tourism, learning as much as possible about other sectors and expanding my horizons is very important. Many of the aspects I got to encounter and discover while working in the Agency, although not directly related to tourism, can be useful for my future career. I saw first-hand how a developing capital city operates in order to be more attractive at the business market. If a city has a good transport system and connectivity, provides great business and job opportunities, offers high level of education, a good working environment, political and economic stability, it will be a preferred destination not just for potential investors but also for potential tourists.

Every aspect of territorial marketing can be related to tourism. If all the aspects I mentioned before are well developed, the tourism market will also benefit from them. For this reason, I tried to learn as much as possible from my colleagues while also focusing on the tourism development in the city.

The team is involved in many different projects and activities related to Sofia’s economic development and the growth of its priority industries, such as IT, BPO, real estate, retail, etc. And although these industries are not really related to tourism – my passion – the Sofia Investment Team did their best to integrate me in all their activities, giving me some important responsibilities. I really felt like part of the team and I’m grateful for that.

Now, thanks to this experience, I know much more about territorial marketing and destination promotion. I’m looking forward to working on the tourism promotion of my beautiful small city, taking inspiration from a capital city. Maybe one day I will cooperate with Sofia…who knows!

 

Arianna’s Presentation about her region – Venetto.

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