The AdventureEDU program reached Central Asia 11-12 October with an engaging two-day workshop held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city Bishkek, located beneath the fabled Tien Shan (Celestial) mountain range. Fifty-seven participants, including inbound adventure travel tour operators, guides, outfitters, local tourism networks, DMCs, and tourism professors, joined Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) educators Jack Delf of Black Mountain Montenegro and Myles Farnbank of Wilderness Scotland for an exchange of ideas and in-depth discussion on several subjects such as business management for adventure tourism businesses, current adventure travel trends, and working with international markets.
Hosted by USAID’s Business Growth Initiative (BGI) Project, the educational training followed the ATTA’s highly successful August 2017 Kyrgyzstan reconnaissance trip. During the August experience, six international adventure tour operators visited the country to establish new relationships with local operators and businesses.
Participants at the AdventureEDU training were particularly pleased that the training was delivered by adventure travel practitioners, who shared industry tips and techniques reinforced with actual examples of challenges and successes they had experienced in the field. This style of a practical, hands-on workshop was a first for these Kyrgyz businesses, participants told Delf and Farnbank.
“It was an excellent seminar, especially for Kyrgyzstan destinations. Very useful and practical,” said Aiperi Narbaeva from Red Rock Travel. “I liked very much that it was based on exact examples. Thank you so much.”
Bakyt Turdumambetov, head of the Department of Travel Business and Tourism at the Kyrgyz-Turkish University said, “I teach the subject but at the same time I learned a lot of new things, particularly about adventure tourism, which I will pass on to my students.”
The USAID BGI Project’s Gulmira Myrzakmat, who is program manager of tourism sector development and has led the partnership with the ATTA, also emphasized the importance of having adventure travel practitioners present the training: “The key success of the AdventureEDU training program was that EDU trainers are tour operators themselves, who shared their experience and lessons they learned with local tour operators. AdventureEDU training has given Kyrgyz tour operators an opportunity to translate the learning process into action.”
Citizens of more than 40 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European Union nations can travel visa-free to Kyrgyzstan for stays of up to 60 days. Citizens of an additional 20 countries can obtain a visa upon entry at Manas International Airport in Bishkek, making it easier for adventure tourism businesses to form relationships with international adventure travel operators and offer bureaucracy-free travel for their clients.
The ATTA’s partnership with Kyrgyzstan and the USAID BGI Project does not end here. An ATTA Adventure Advocate Group (AAG), made up of the six international operators who visited Kyrgyzstan this summer, will continue to work together with the Kyrgyz adventure travel industry into 2018 on business and product development, focusing attention on Kyrgyzstan’s adventure travel opportunities for the future.