Community Based Tourism in Kyrgyzstan.

Contacts and short information here

Tourism in former-Soviet Kyrgyzstan is becoming easier, better and more value-packed.  The Kyrgyz government recently began offering visas on-demand and has abolished mandatory OVIR registration.  Entrepreneurs are creating international linkages and developing websites to sell services from new start-up trekking and travel agencies.  A new genre of managers are working to give visitors more diversified, customer-oriented options. But still, in a country of breathtaking mountain vistas and countless unexplored adventures, tourism accounts for under half the average for countries globally (as percentage of GDP) and community based tourism is new. 

Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association Hospitality Kyrgyzstan” (KCBTA), (the country’s driving force behind CBT best practices and innovation) is leading the charge.  The association’s objective is to improve living conditions in remote mountain regions by developing a sustainable and wholesome ecotourism model that utilizes local natural and recreational resources.  Located in the capital Bishkek, KCBTA is an umbrella association uniting 15 diverse destination communities (“CBT groups”). The CBT association was registered on January 3, 2003 with support from Helvetas Kyrgyzstan Programme’s Community Based Tourism Support Project (CBT SP) with operations throughout the country. 

Community based tourism (CBT) was initiated in May 2000. This initiative has great support from local people and today there are 5 actively working CBT groups throughout almost the whole of Kyrgyzstan. For further development and coordination of the activities within the country, these groups have established their own umbrella organization, The Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association (KCBTA) – “Hospitality Kyrgyzstan”. The main objective of the KCBTA is to improve the living conditions of people in remote mountain regions, by developing rural tourism without harming the natural environment and culture of local people.

KCBTA supports the rural sector with cost effective administration centered in the interests of its chapters.  KCBTA balances marketing strategy for local and international segments while fostering communication on new projects, activities and opportunities to its rural chapters.  KCBTA encourages rational and responsible natural resource use through training on environmental protection, ecology, cooperation and heritage sites to local members of rural communities.    KCBTA provides support to member organizations by marketing their services and products, providing business training, supporting organizational capacity building and organizing training, seminars and study tours. The association represents member interests in national policy development and negotiations within the mainstream tourism industry.

KCBTA showcases each region’s best attractions.   As a rule, tour operators are local community members and products are offered by local artisans.  Local community members present attractions and their beauty with intimate, age old, insight and immersion in their lifestyle, history and culture.

KCBTA chapters follow in the spirit and principles of the organization and support its “Hospitality Kyrgyzstan” brand. The central KCBTA office promotes balance between reasonable prices the highest possible quality.  The KCBTA main office and its chapters work together to find consistent service and price policies as a strategy for create the most benefit for consumers and the rural tourism sector together. 

KCBTA’s primary partner is Helvetas, a Swiss Association for International Cooperation that has committed to a long-term alliance.  Helvetas is running programs in more than 20 countries of the world (for more details, please visit the website at KCBTA also maintains close relationships with the State Committee for Tourism, Sports and Youth Policy, private tour companies and various international organizations and projects