A group of tourism experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan successfully completed an intensive five-day course of the Auditors of the Good Travel certification program, which included practical practice in hotels and guest houses.
The training, which included both theoretical and practical parts, conducted by Anula Galevska, representative of the Good Travel program, gave these professionals a comprehensive understanding of sustainability certification in the tourism industry.
Mikhail Petrushkov, Chairman of the Board of the Tajik Community Based Tourism Association (TCBTA) from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, commented:
«Our association, in accordance with the GSTC criteria, together with partners, has developed its own Sustainable Tourism Code and is actively involved in the development of voluntary certification of guest houses and other CBT facilities of the Republic of Tajikistan based on certification programs for tourist sites recognized by the GSTC.»
Yerkin Tikenov, director of Insight Travel based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, commented on the evolution of the industry, stating:
“Now we have reached a point where the growth in the number of organizations means a shift towards a quality level. Instead of just discussing sustainability, people actively practice it and seek recognition through certification systems. These systems serve as marketing and reputation tools, demonstrating that organizations are indeed meeting their sustainability requirements.”
The course emphasized that sustainability is not just a list of measures and requirements, but an ongoing practice that must be followed. The participants were ready to bring the message to the hotel owners through surveys, audits and consultations on sustainability practices.
In 2020-2022, Greentour trained hotels and guest houses in Bishkek, Naryn, Issyk-Kul and Osh in sustainable development management. Many of the trainees have already taken steps to integrate environmental, social and cultural sustainability practices into their hotels through more responsible water and waste management, food waste reduction, community involvement and cultural respect.
Newly trained trainers and auditors are now ready to offer their experience and services to hotel owners in Central Asia who want to study sustainability and earn Good Travel certification. By participating in this process, hotel owners can gain a powerful marketing tool for the Western market and contribute to the global movement towards sustainable tourism.
Mikhail Shamshidov, a tourism development consultant from Uzbekistan, emphasized the importance of sustainable development, saying:
“Sustainability is not just a modern trend; it is primarily a cost-effective approach that benefits the organization, the local community and the environment and ultimately leads to the satisfaction of tourists. After this training, I have a firm intention to actively and quickly promote this topic in Uzbekistan.”
The course was organized by the GreenTour project (funded by the European Union’s SWITCH-Asia program implemented by Helvetas) and brought together professionals from different countries from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, promoting cooperation and the exchange of best practices in the field of sustainable tourism.
The participants expressed their gratitude to Helvetas Kyrgyzstan for the excellent organization and hospitality.
As sustainable tourism gains momentum, these newly trained experts are encouraging more frequent sharing of knowledge and experience among industry professionals in Central Asia and beyond, creating new challenges and discoveries in sustainability, tourism and more.