SPbU students of geography developed seven urban projects for rapid and effective development of Vyborg.

Konstantin Aksenov, Doctor of Geography, Professor of St Petersburg University and Vice President for Strategic Development of GS Group, assigned this task to his students during their practicum. "We concentrated primarily on the centre of Vyborg as a site that could become a driver for the development of the entire town. This resulted in the total of seven development ideas. These projects can really become the core of the breakthrough development of Vyborg. Many of them do not require funding from the state budget. They involve the state only as a regulator at different levels of implementation," — Professor Aksenov notes. "Based on these ideas, architectural projects can be created, since the students of St Petersburg University worked together with our colleagues from St Petersburg University of Architecture and Construction."

Konstantin Aksenov emphasises that the development concepts proposed by the University students are self-sufficient. Any interested administrative or corporate leader, either in Vyborg or in other towns or cities, can access the projects of our students and get acquainted with them. "And these are not just abstract ideas. Each development idea is supplemented by a SWOT analysis, efficiency evaluation in the light of macroeconomic indicators, and potential timing of implementation. Not only do our students offer concepts, but they also speak of measures needed to be taken to implement them. They estimate how much funding each project requires, how many people may be attracted to the town by a certain project and for what period of time," explains Konstantin Aksenov.

For example, one of the students suggests developing health tourism in Vyborg. For that, an all-inclusive SPA centre can be created (near Cape Smolyanoy) with an area of ​​about 100–200 thousand square metres. It will include an integrated hotel cluster, a yacht club and a water park built in a style that would reflect the medieval history of the town. According to the future urbanist, the estimated attendance of such a SPA centre can be about 300 thousand people a year, 40 thousand of them coming from abroad. The project cost is estimated at up to 400 thousand dollars. The best option for the implementation of this project will be attracting foreign investment. The author of the project assumes that a possible challenge may be an ambiguous reaction of the residents of Vyborg to the construction of such a centre. The payback period of this project is unlikely to be a short one. However, its advantages are quite obvious: creation of a new tourist cluster and additional jobs, improvement of the tourist image of Vyborg, additional taxes to the budget, and development of the Petrovsky district of the town and the surrounding infrastructure.

Another project includes a set of measures to use the water area of ​​Vyborg as a multifunctional zone. The author of the project proposes that a cultural, tourist and entertainment zone be organised on the island of Bolshoy Shchit and neighbouring islands. For that, the islands should be connected by pedestrian bridges, a berth should be created, as well as paintball and fishing areas, a climbing wall and various snack bars. The cost of the project is quite modest: only 30–50 million rubles. In return, from May to September the islands can be potentially visited by three to five thousand inhabitants of St Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast and various cities and towns of Finland. In addition, the author proposes that a promenade up to 1 kilometre long be built on the island of Tverdysh. According to the estimates of the future urbanist, it will cost 20–40 million rubles. In return, it will attract one to two thousand tourists more during the peak season. Relatively small investments will increase the tourist flow to Vyborg from Russia and Finland, revitalise water passenger transport, create new points of attraction for excursion routes and make it possible to implement various tourist projects. The promenade on the island of Tverdysh will also contribute to the creation of a transport terminal at the outlet from inland waters to Vyborg Bay.

"Some of the ideas proposed were completely unexpected for me. Students have an advantage: they are less constrained by what is possible and what is impossible, so they think broader and freer. What will be considered unrealisable by an experienced specialist, is just annoying obstacles for them," said Konstantin Aksenov.

For information: SWOT analysis is a method of strategic planning. It involves identifying the factors of the internal and external environment of an organisation and dividing them into four categories: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.