Tajikistan, a landlocked country in Central Asia, shares borders with Afghanistan to the south, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan to the north and Uzbekistan to the west and northwest. Mountains stretch across more than 90% of the country. Whether one is travelling by yak, on foot, motorbike or bicycle, or in a 4x4 vehicle, one progressively unravels Tajikistan as a truly rare and unique adventurous destination. It offers trekkers stunning landscapes and soaring peaks above 7,000 metres.
Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA) was established in 2008 with the support of the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), a project of the Aga Khan Foundation. It aims to help alleviate poverty in a way that is not only effective, but also sustainable. It is doing this by promoting the region as a new tourism destination. It is also supporting local people in the remote mountain villages of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) by helping them develop skill sets that are building the tourism sector. Currently, PECTA has 22 members: 14 tour operators and 8 service providers. Additionally, PECTA is working with other tour-operators, service providers, homestays owners, drivers, guides, porters and other relevant sectors in GBAO. Of the +150 homestays that are operating in GBAO today, about 90% of owners are women, all of whom are generating additional income for their families from this new type of business.
PECTA is working with a broad cross-section of the local population including: young university graduates with plans to start up new businesses in the tourism sector; single mothers operating homestays and guesthouses; and people from remote and poor areas working as porters, guides, tour operators, translators and so on.
In addition to destination marketing and product development, PECTA works on preserving the historical heritage of the Pamirs, including protection of natural resources: support of the Tajik National Park – a UNESCO nature heritage site – is among its protection of natural resources initiatives.
The Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan won 1st place for the ITB Berlin 2018 Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards, Best of Asia-Pacific category. At ITB Berlin 2019, the destination placed 3rd in the same category. Recognition by this prestigious award has been key to helping the Pamir Mountains achieve sustainable tourism development and global market coverage. Bringing more tourists to Tajikistan will not only improve the lives of local populations working in this sphere, but it will also develop the country’s overall economic situation.
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