Kyrgyzstan – 29. September 2019

Deputy Director of Helvetas Kyrgyzstan won a 'Person of the Year, who made a special contribution to the development of tourism in the Kyrgyz Republic' prize

On September 27, 2019 the solemn ceremony of the Kyrgyz Tourism Awards 2019 took place in Bishkek. The event was dedicated to the World Tourism Day.

We are proud to announce that a Deputy Director of Helvetas Kyrgyzstan Ms. Damira Raeva received a certificate of honor in a special nomination - Person of the Year, who made a special contribution to the development of tourism in the Kyrgyz Republic.

We decided to ask Damira Turarovna several questions in order to better acquaint our readers with her.

- Dear Damira Turarovna, thank you for agreeing to a short interview. First of all, let me congratulate you on your victory. Could you please explain us what is Kyrgyzstan Tourism Awards and what is the nomination?

- Thank you very much. I would like to note that it is a great honor for me and I am grateful to the organizers for the award, in fact, this is a common victory for our organization. The Kyrgyz Tourism Awards National Award is an annual event organized by the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic. This year, my candidacy was nominated in the nomination "Person of the Year, who made a special contribution to the development of tourism in the Kyrgyz Republic."

- How did you begin to work in the tourism sector?

- In the tourism sector, I started working as a Project Manager for Community Based Tourism Development Project (CBT), which was implemented by Helvetas Kyrgyzstan. Our team consisted of 8 people, and we piloted the first CBT group in Kochkor village in 2000. This initiative was very well received by the local community, we were all very motivated by the result, so we began to spread this experience to other regions of Kyrgyzstan.

As a result, we got a network of local CBT organizations interested in developing rural tourism. To date, this network includes 15 local organizations that in 2003 joined the KCBTA Kyrgyzstan Hospitality Association.

This project has become one of the successful projects in Kyrgyzstan, since the CBT network has been working steadily to this day, and I hope that it will be successful for a long time.

- The CBT project was very successful, but it was in the early 2000s, does Helvetas continue to work in the tourism sector?

- In my opinion, Helvetas makes a great contribution to the development of tourism in Kyrgyzstan, especially rural tourism, focusing on sustainability issues, including environmental aspects, analyzing the root problems in tourism and involving local players in the decision-making, which leads to sustainable development as we see in the example of CBT. At this time, Helvetas has also launched a long-term project for the development of sustainable winter tourism funded by the Swiss Government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and is also working on the development of rural tourism in Alai and Chon Alai.

- What, in your opinion, is lacking today for the development of the tourism sector in the country?

- I think that tourism in Kyrgyzstan is developing quite dynamically. This year, Kyrgyzstan was in the top of the world tourist destinations, and we all see a significant increase in the number of tourists from different countries. But this is only the beginning, because according to various expert estimates, we use only about 10% of the country's potential. However, there are still a lot of unresolved issues related to the quality of tour services, outdated infrastructure, and ensuring the safety of tourists. These are very serious problems, for the solution of which we need to make structural changes in the state’s policy, and this is exactly what we lack for the time being. Most issues are resolved locally, spontaneously, and there are no significant system changes.

- Will Helvetas continue to work in the tourism sector?

- Of course, Helvetas will continue its work in the tourism sector, especially sustainable tourism, including winter tourism. We will make every effort to develop the tourism sector and the country as a whole.

- Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions. Congratulations again on the award and wish you success in your work.

- Thank you, I, like the whole Helvetas Kyrgyzstan team, will make every effort to develop not only the tourism sector, but also other sectors of the economy of our country.