From Fostering Dialogue to Capacity Building: Supporting Kyrgyzstan’s Efforts Toward Sustainable Tourism

Kyrgyzstan is home to large regions of snow-peaked mountains, natural springs and rich forests. Every year, millions of tourists come to visit the country and experience its natural scenery and nomadic lifestyles. The tourism sector in Kyrgyzstan plays an important role in the overall economic development, however its environmental footprint remains a concerning issue. To help address this, over the course of the past months, our PERETO project has collaborated with key actors on three main aspects: capacity building for SMEs, enabling a policy dialogue on fostering sustainable tourism, and integrating a sustainability perspective into the higher education system.

Supporting SMEs through capacity building

Kyrgyzstan’s tourism sector largely consist of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating as Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes (HoReCa). These SMEs have a strong potential to become a driver for green growth and sustainable development in the country. Challenges such as lack of stable energy and water supply or limited awareness on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) are some of the issues impacting SMEs’ transition toward a sustainable economy.

To support SMEs in the tourism sector leverage their full potential, the CSCP held trainings in autumn 2022 to raise awareness and build capacities on integrating sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and energy/resource efficiency (ERE) into their daily activities. The training sessions dedicated to SMEs from Osh, Chuy and Issyk-kul regions also touched on the topic of green finance.

In the trainings, 50 pilot SMEs learned more on sustainable business models and products through interactive approaches consisting of theory, best practice examples and practical exercises using sustainable business model canvas and business planning.

Field visits to several exemplary SMEs followed the trainings. During the visits, the pilot SMEs met and learnt from the experience of their peers who have successfully adopted SCP/ERE measures, such as heat pump water heaters (using solar and geothermal energy), waste water treatment plants, and building insulation.

Policy dialogue on fostering sustainable tourism

Meanwhile, the project also conducted a high-level policy dialogue on sustainable tourism and green finance. The policy dialogue has invited key actors such as the Department of Tourism Kyrgyzstan, Ministry of Economy and Finance, European Union Delegation to Kyrgyzstan, banks (Optima Bank and Doscredobank) as well as business associations  (HoReCa Association). The PERETO project facilitated the discussion on the need for a national sustainable tourism strategy to drive sustainable tourism and the roles of SMEs’ access to green finance for sustainable tourism in the country.

University roundtable on sustainable tourism curricula 

The PERETO project also held a national roundtable on the integration of SCP into the curriculum of universities. The event gathered various universities from across the country. During the roundtable, the CSCP shared lessons learnt from international best practices on integrating SCP into higher education curricula and highlighted its opportunities. In collaboration with the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), the PERETO project lead, the Kyrgyz Academy of Tourism has already started to offer several courses on sustainable tourism. The PERETO project sought to replicate the success of the Academy to other universities to prepare a next generation of young professionals in sustainable tourism.

For further questions, please contact Kartika Angraaeni.