Ethical tourism in Tajikistan: A path out of poverty

The Pamirs are an area of outstanding natural beauty in Tajikistan, boasting some of the most mountainous landscapes anywhere in the world. But against this remote backdrop most people live in poverty and over a quarter of the population live on less than US$2 a day. VSO is working with the Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association to increase tourism in the area to improve the livelihoods of the local community.

Ethical tourism

A key part of the solution is tourism. By drawing on the region’s natural assets and attracting tourists, the local community can make a much needed living and provide for their families. That is why VSO volunteers Christine Braganza and Jelte Bakker worked with the Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA). PECTA works with the local community to develop tourism services and to make sure that local people benefit. 

Both Christine and Jelte volunteered as tourism advisers and have more than 20 years’ experience of developing tourism in the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Italy.

Christine and Jelte trained PECTA staff to identify their market, tailor their products and provide the quality of service tourists expect. As a result, PECTA is aiming its services at growing number of adventure tourists, who are naturally drawn to the mountains of the Pamirs. The volunteers also helped PECTA to produce promotional brochures which show off the region, local products and services available.

Lasting effects

Tajikistan has a strong culture of hospitality and homestays are often a way to develop tourism locally. However, many families are willing to impoverish themselves to provide for guests by accepting prices that don’t cover the costs.

Christine and Jelte supported staff to produce materials that will ensure tourists learn how not to make the poverty in the region worse. Now all materials produced by PECTA warn tourists of the danger of making the Pamir community even poorer by misunderstanding the situation.

In 2011 the association faced closure as its funding collapsed. However, through hard work and support from Christine and Jelte, PECTA has secured more funding. PECTA can now continue its work to promote the Pamirs and to increase the wealth in the region.

This ripple effect is at the heart of PECTA’s approach, explains Kirgizbek Kanunov, chair of PECTA, “Improve people’s livelihoods and their income will go to their families and everyone they live with. Everybody benefits!”

PECTA is supported by VSO and the Aga Khan Foundation through the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP).

For more information about PECTA visit: www.pecta.tj/en

Christine Braganza and Jelte Bakker (Tajikistan - Secure livelihoods)

Challenge

The Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA) in Tajikistan needed new ways to promote tourism in the area as well as provide an income for the local community. 

Catalyst

VSO volunteers Jelte and Christine work with PECTA to identify and attract a new market and show tourists how to avoid making poverty in the region worse.

Result

PECTA promote local products and services providing more opportunities for people in the community.

Tajikistan Secure livelihoods

VSO International