Building a new tourism destination, naturally
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Asadsho Zoolshoev

My name is Asadsho Zoolshoev, and this is my story…I am from Tajikistan, and am now living in the eastern part of the country in a beautiful mountainous town of Khorog, the administrative centre of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). Currently, I am the Executive Director of Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA), a non-profit organization aiming at promoting and developing sustainable and responsible tourism in the mountainous areas of Tajikistan. Tourism is a new and promising sector of the economy of Tajikistan. Sustainable tourism development brings benefits to the region not only in economic and social terms, but it also brings ecological efforts to protect the mountain environment for future generations. PECTA was established in 2008 with great support from the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), a project of the Aga Khan Foundation. Currently PECTA has 21 members: 13 Tour operators and eight services providers. In addition, PECTA is working with home-stays owners. In total up to 86 home-stays are operating in the region; 90% of the home-stay owners are women, who can generate some income for their families from this business new to the region. Bringing local people to business has been among our main challenges. Because of the lack of knowledge in market economy it has been a very challenging task to adapt local people to the hospitality business. Therefore, it took quite a time to attract local people to the tourism business. Nowadays we are focusing on capacity building for all tourism stakeholders on such topics as quality of the services, marketing and promotion. As PECTA’s Director, I liaise with the local and central government to lobby the promotion and development of tourism in the region and nationwide. I try to promote an understanding of how this sector of the economy, which has not been promoted in the region for long time, has become very important for the local economy. Tajikistan lacks in natural resources, such as oil and gas, hence tourism presents the only real immediate profit generating sphere. I have been attending various workshops and conferences in and outside Tajikistan, where I present my organization, my region and my country. I recently participated in the International Tourist Fair annually held in Berlin, where I had the honor to represent Tajikistan. There were many tour operators in the Fair, who expressed their interest in responsible tourism and approached me with various questions about our country and region. Bringing more tourists to Tajikistan is our end goal, since this not only improves the lives of individual persons working in this sphere, but also will develop the overall economic situation of our beautiful mountainous country, our Tajikistan.