Former Soviet Asian states such as Kyrgyzstan have considerable opportunities to become major touristic destinations thanks to their unique culture, history and outstanding landscapes. However, this sector faces many upcoming challenges especially in Kyrgyzstan.
The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 saw the worst possible levels of air pollution, with figures of twice the “dangerous” level compared to WHO regulations.
The country’s capitol Bishkek – despite hosting only 1 million inhabitants–was the most polluted city in the world at various points throughout the winter of 2019–2020.
As Covid-19 has caused the country’s unemployment rate to soar–from 6.72% in 2019 to 7.89% in 2020–the need for a programme combining green development and job opportunities has emerged. Tourism in Kyrgyzstan is still underdeveloped, which is why ACTED has started implementing a sustainable tourism programme, which supports the growth of local economies, while respecting Kyrgyz communities and protecting cultural sites from the risks of mass tourism.
Funded by the European Union and entitled the Silk Road CBT Initiative, , ACTED’s project aims to boost the competitiveness of Community-based tourism (CBT) in Central Asia by empowering business associations to drive a local tourism development that benefits local actors. CBT is a form of tourism that seeks to empower rural communities to manage tourism development and achieve sustainable economic growth.
In order to boost investments and to promote economic diversification, ACTED, in cooperation with the Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association, invited representatives of tour operators and bloggers from all around Europe (Lisa Wehmeyer, Berend Simons, Rupert Parker, SOCIETY Magasin, Enrica and Natürlich Reisen Tourdesign) to visit Kyrgyzstan. British, Dutch, German, Austrian and Italian, surrounded by the astonishing scenery of the Tian Shan, also known as the Celestial Mountains, discovered the fascinating culture and history of the country.
The Tour consisted in 6 days of travel to discover multiple Kyrgyz regions. This allowed them to identify places to promote and stimulate future tourism. They also had the opportunity to meet the local population who showed them various traditional activities.
During their tour, the different actors visited the famous Burana Tower, an important passing point on the Great Silk Road in Kyrgyz territory during the 10th-11th century. After which, they went to explore divers yurt camps and villages, each one known for a speciality. In Jaychi yurt camp, they watched an eagle hunting demonstration and in Kyzyl-Tuu village, they participated in a yurt making process. Finally, in the village of Kochkor, they witnessed a felt making show, made by local handcrafters. Felt making is an ancient process for making a dense, durable and warm fabric, used for winter clothing and for the insulation of the yurts.