The United States and Russia Join Hands – The Largest Tourism Initiative The World Has Ever Seen

American business and tourism leaders have joined together to develop one of the greatest tourism initiatives the world has ever seen. This project will have an incredible impact on US businesses and our economy and also strength our nation’s ties abroad.

The Honorable Mikhail Gorbachev, former Premier of the Supreme Soviet and President of the Soviet Union, joined a few hundred special guests in Las Vegas this week to introduce the Russian Heritage Highway Foundation, an international effort dedicated to economic development and diversity in European Russia. Honored guests included Assistant Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Governor Kenny Guinn of Nevada and former Nevada Governors Bob Miller, Richard Bryan, Bob List and Paul Laxalt.

Speaking through an interpreter at an invitation-only reception at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Gorbachev outlined the concept of the Russian Heritage Highway Foundation, benefiting a 700-kilometer road connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg on which dozens of Russian cultural icons lived, became educated, wrote, performed and died.

The project will focus attention on the 700-kilometer (435mile) route from Moscow to St. Petersburg that passes through the historic Tver and Velikiy Novgorod regions. Sites along this route include birthplaces, academies, residences, principal performance venues and final resting places of cultural icons such as Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, Rachmaninov, Pushkin, Chechov, Rimsky- Korsakov, Stravinsky, Tolstoy, Nobokov and many other luminaries of international stature. This concept mirrors that of the United States’ Route 66 and several other US-based culturally significant roadways.

The Russian Heritage Highway Foundation (RHHF) was conceived by Thomas Tait, the former CEO of the Nevada Commission on Tourism and the current vice president of the multibillion dollar Lake Las Vegas Resort project. Tait is also a consultant on tourism to Eastern Europe, and has been elected President of the RHHF.

McMurry, Inc., an Arizona-based marketing and communications firm is leading all the marketing for the project. Stephen Williams, vice president of business development sits on the board of directors of the foundation. Williams stated, “As Vice President of Business Development at McMurry, I can not envision a more emotionally or creatively rewarding engagement than to promote Russia, the largest country on earth and to do so with President Gorbachev, the most significant political figure of the 20th century.” He continued, “The Russian Heritage Highway initiative is an incredibly well conceived idea whose time has certainly come. It translates tried and tested American roadway promotion to practically every great Russian luminary along a 400 mile stretch of highway linking Moscow to St. Petersburg. The initiative effectively scales the possibility of Western tourism and travel to a vast Russia down to a readily digestible size. Having traveled to Russia twice in the last few months to discuss and further the RHH Foundation project including a prior visit with Mikhail Gorbachev, it is most gratifying to see the significant progress to date.”

Major funding is expected to be acquired through incentive cultural and infrastructure appropriations from the European Union and United Nations. Every year the EUA and the UN expend millions of dollars for road, cultural and historic icon improvement projects in Eastern Europe. Additional funding will be provided from the Russian government as well as from the regional and local governments along the route. Official representatives from the regional governments in the Russian Federation will also be in attendance at the press conference.

Board members for RHHF include multi-national business leaders and political dignitaries. Honorary Chairmen Mikhail Gorbachev and Governor Bob Miller join: Derrick Crandall, chairman of the national Scenic Byways Coalition; Bob Gilbert, 30 year travel industry veteran and board director of the Travel Industry Association of America; Michael Levett, President & CEO of the Citizen’s Development Corps; Rex Maughan, Chairman and President of Forever Living Products International; Mark McDermott, former director of the Arizona Office of Tourism; Dennis Szefel, board member of the Travel Industry of America and group president of Hospitality and Entertainment, a division of the Delaware North Companies; and Stephen Williams, vice president of business development for McMurry, Inc., one of the largest marketing communications firms in the Southwest and a national leader in custom publishing.

McMurry (www.mcmurry.com) is the second largest marketing communications firms in Arizona, and one of the leading custom publishers in the U.S. The company serves the interests of more than 4,000 corporate marketers, as well as some of the world’s largest and most prestigious corporate clientele including GlaxoSmithKline (2nd largest pharmaceutical company in the world), The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, Amtrak and STMicroelectronics (3rd largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world).

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