On UN World Tourism Day: Tajikistan is still an insider's destination

25.09.2015 – Tourism is driving job creation and generating income in this mountainous state rich in cultural and natural treasures.

Compared with other former Soviet republics, Tajikistan's economy is largely undeveloped, with little potential for growth. As a result, there are few job opportunities on the labour market. An exception is the tourism industry, one of the most labour intensive sectors of the economy, where employment prospects are relatively good. Tajikistan offers tremendous potential for tourism, but the sector is still in its infancy.

Consequently, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is providing support to the country's tourism industry. Developing the sector will generate more jobs and income in the nation; sustainable development in tourism business can play a key role in boosting the economy and alleviating poverty. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on behalf of BMZ to help establish professional and competitive holiday services, including trips along the Pamir Highway and trekking tours through the mountain valleys. Such initiatives will provide opportunities for the local population to generate their own income.

To this end, GIZ is collaborating with existing organisations and assisting them to systematically establish a viable organisational structure for tourism associations and umbrella organisations. By developing joint marketing and sales structures, these groups are raising Tajikistan's international profile as a tourist destination.

In this context, training courses are being devised for companies and staff in the sector on topics such as hygiene standards, cost-effective practices, security and methods for improving service quality in general. Homestay (private accommodation) providers receive basic instruction in business administration to enable them to estimate their costs and calculate prices. Workshops are run to show craft workers how to improve their products and promote them more effectively. They are familiarised with the steps involved in readying their goods for export and are given opportunities to attend trade fairs. Tour guides, transport operators and staff from public amenities are trained in how to deal with guests from other cultures.

'Building on these activities, a marketing strategy has been developed for Tajikistan as a whole and is being used by the country to present itself as a travel destination to tour operators and at international tourism fairs,' says Jens Elsner, who serves as an advisor to the Tajik partners on behalf of GIZ. Positive developments on the economic and political scene are making Tajikistan's tourism sector increasingly attractive to potential travellers and investors. This year, more educational tour operators have included the country in their list of destinations, some of them for the first time. A growing number of travel groups are visiting the mountainous nation and indicating an increasing level of satisfaction with their holiday. Elsner: 'The image of backpacking or riding a yak along the Pamir will also dominate the 2016 marketing campaign.'