One of the goals of our project is to develop sustainable tourism in Kyrgyzstan.
The term sustainable tourism is rarely used in Kyrgyzstan. In general, knowledge about tourism as an important part of the social and economic life of society is practically absent in the public consciousness. Consequently this situation has lead to a spontaneous and haphazard development of an important part of Kyrgyzstan’s economy.
In our opinion, sustainable tourism is a perfect fit for Kyrgyzstan from an economic and cultural viewpoint.
The World Tourism Organization gives the following definition for sustainable tourism:
Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.
Sustainable tourism can also be defined as the following:
- Tourism should support the natural, cultural and biological diversity of the place visited and try to reduce the damage from the tourist flow. Tourism should minimize the use of non-renewable natural resources while providing tourist services and developing tourism infrastructure. And it also must be environmental friendly: reduction of air, water, and land pollution, as well as competent disposal of waste left by tourists.
- Tourism should support local communities: local people should be able to earn on tourism flows, which, in turn, should not destroy the authentic and traditional culture of host communities. The development of the tourist infrastructure should take into account the opinion of local residents. Tourism should help the development of local communities and help them gain access to resources, amenities and life support systems, excluding any exploitation.
How do these ideas refer specifically to Kyrgyzstan?
The best example is around Lake Issyk-Kul. Uncontrolled discharge of garbage, thousands of cars, hotels and guest houses that do not dispose of their waste in the proper way. This is all a vivid example of how tourism adversely affected the environment, and in places of greatest congestion of tourists – and on culture and biological diversity. If earlier the northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Region was famous for agriculture and excellent food products and the lake’s waters were full of fish, then only a few decades of active tourism led to the fact that the locals became completely dependent on the tourist flow and abandoned their ancestral occupation, and the biological diversity of the lake was completely destroyed in favor of tourism. This is a vivid example of wrong tourism development, which does more harm than good, especially in the long term. But despite this, there is still a widespread opinion in the society that Issyk-Kul should be built up by five-star hotels and turned into a kind of Central Asian Turkey, which of course is absolutely wrong in all aspects. Many will say that Issyk-Kul is a separate case. However, such situation is observed in many other places in the country, including very difficult to access: in alpine lakes, in mountaineering camps, and in remote mountain gorges.
The best example is Lake Issyk-Kul. Around Issyk-Kul you can see uncontrolled accumulation of garbage, abandoned cars, and hotels and guesthouses that do not dispose of their waste in the proper way. This is all a vivid example of how tourism can adversely affect the environment. In the past, the northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Region was famous for agriculture and food products. The lake’s waters were full of fish. After only a few decades of tourism, the locals have become completely dependent on the flow of tourists and abandoned their traditional occupations. The biological diversity of the lake was destroyed in favor of tourism. This is an example of incorrect tourism development. In the long term, this does more harm that good. Despite this, in Kyrgyz society, there is still a widespread opinion that Issyk-Kul should have five-star hotels and be turned into the Turkey of Central Asia. Many will say that Issyk-Kul is a controlled case or outlier. However, similar situations can be seen in many other places in the country. These places include very difficult to access areas such as: alpine lakes, mountaineering camps and remote mountain gorges.
Another important issue, which the concept of sustainable tourism is designed for, are local communities living in areas heavily trafficked by tourists. It is not uncommon to hear that their opinion and needs in the development of tourism infrastructure are completely ignored by businesses and the state. Locals are not encouraged to be involved in the economic processes generated by the large tourist flow. It is common for staff in the boarding houses, hotels and guesthouses on the shore of Issyk-Kul to recruit staff not from nearby villages, but from Bishkek. Local villagers are rarely hired for hospitality work in these establishments. Usually, tour guides throughout the country are residents of Bishkek. Travel companies are rarely working to change this situation.
What can a tourist do?
Of course, one person cannot solve all these problems. It is absurd to urge every tourist to go on a trip and live in a tent, or to completely abandon travel. However, you can do something as a tourist:
- Do not damage the nature and places where you travel. Do not leave behind garbage and preserve the nature and architecture of the places visited. When travelling to remote places, use biodegradable sunscreen, shampoos, soaps and detergents
- Try to use the services of local people by buying local products and souvenirs. By investing money in the local economy, you support the livelihood, culture, and self-reliance of locals.
- Respect the culture and traditions of local people.
- Spread this information and inform as many people as possible.
The policy of sustainable development of Too.kg travel agency
Our main mission is to show the beauty and culture of Kyrgyzstan. In doing so, we encourage tourists to purchase locally produced goods and services and help travel in an environmentally friendly way.
Our main goals are:
Supporting local people and the economy.
We work to maximize the positive impact of tourism on the local economy and local communities by:
– Engaging predominantly local staff
– Planning and executing trips with local vendors
– Encouraging our customers/passengers to buy from local suppliers and use local service providers and support social enterprises, local commerce, arts and crafts
– Buying sustainable and local goods and services
Preserving the environment
We try to preserve the environment and reduce our negative impact by:
– Using local transportation where it is safe, reliable and feasible
– Ensuring proper maintenance and choosing the most efficient mode of transportation
– Minimizing waste and consumption on the trip
– Prohibiting garbage dumping everywhere except in garbage cans
– Compliance with all national park visitor regulations
We oppose any exploitative or illegal practices or those that have a negative impact on animal welfare.
We strive to preserve culture and reduce negative impacts by:
– Observing and respecting local customs and etiquette
– Encouraging local interaction and understanding of the local way of life
– Asking permission before taking pictures
Respecting the basic principles of human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ensuring that our employees, customers, local communities and suppliers/business partners promote their right to be treated
– freedom and
Also one of the main rules is to respect our obligations to tourists, employees and suppliers.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)