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Strengthening Business Intermediary Organizations (BIOs) for Sustainable Economic Development in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia (2011)

The European Commission launched the second edition of Central Asia Invest Program which aims to reinforce the role and the competences of Central Asian business intermediary organisations, increasing their capacity to support SMEs and to influence policies in favour of micro and small scale companies. The main objective of the project is enhanced economic development of the tourism sector in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia.

The main European project counterpart of the IBC is the European Center for Eco and Agro Tourism (ECEAT) with headquarters in Amsterdam. The local project partners are the Kyrgyz Association of Tour Operators (KATO) and the Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association (KCBTA). The project was launched in the beginning of 2011. The total budget of the project is 512,000 EUR for two years. IBC will receive 154,770 EUR. So far, IBC received 66,533 EUR.

The activities completed within this project by the end of 2011 include:

From February 1, 2011 IBC rented a project office and signed work agreements with three local specialists and one international consultant to implement this project. Currently, the team consists of 3 local specialists, and other staff are involved as required by the activities carried out in the frame of the project.

In April the project team participated in the international fair in Almaty – IX Kazakhstan International Travel & Tourism Fair in Almaty. The IBC project team has held meetings with Kazakh business associations and tour operators with the purpose of future cooperation within the framework of the project. The meeting was attended by five tourism business intermediary organization leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to discuss possible cooperation in promoting Central Asia as a tourism destination.

On the 26th of May the IBC project team conducted a press café as a project kick-off meeting. The Deputy Minister of Economic Regulation, the First Counsellor / Head of Operations Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic and the Head of the Department within the Committee of Jogorku Kenesh on Economic Strategy, Investment Policy and Tourism opened the meeting informing the participants of what is currently being done in tourism in the country. The kick-off meeting was held in the form of a press café at which five experts from the tourism sector were able to inform the members of the media about the challenges and the opportunities of the sector in the country.

In May and June, IBC conducted a number of trainings in Bishkek, Almaty and Tashkent for tour operators on handling standards. The training was carried out by an international expert and more than 60 employees of various tour operating companies from three Central Asian countries participated at the training.

IBC also conducted coaching for Central Asian BIOs (Business Intermediary Organizations) in Almaty and Bishkek for over 10 leaders of tourism associations. The training included topics such as the role and responsibilities of tourism associations, lobbying, management, conditions for membership, recruitment, services, benefits, communications, institutional issues, role and election of board members, country public relations and marketing abroad among many other issues.

In the frame of the project, four European journalists from Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain came to Kyrgyzstan for a familiarization trip at the end of August. As a result of their trip, the European journalists published articles about tourism in Kyrgyzstan in different European papers and magazines. Within 5 days the journalists were able to experience various kinds of tourism activities in Issyk-Kul, Naryn and Chui.

IBC held a sequence of meetings with tourism associations in Kyrgyzstan, as a result of which a new Kyrgyz cooperation model between business associations, government and the parliament is being developed in the form of a public fund. The Public Fund “Tourism Promotion and Development Board of Kyrgyzstan” unites eight main tourism business intermediary organizations in Kyrgyzstan. Currently, the fund is developing recommendations in regard to the budget and the national plan for tourism for the upcoming year.

In September, the project team organized a meeting in Almaty to discuss a Central Asian cooperation model with representatives of tourism BIOs from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, as a result of which a draft charter was developed that will be further discussed during a Central Asian cooperation meeting in Bishkek.

Moreover, IBC is closely working with the Interdepartmental Commission on Tourism within the Ministry of Economic Regulation in order to develop a Kyrgyz brand name. Currently, the Commission is writing up criteria for a national logo that IBC will develop and that will further be officially accepted and used as the national logo for Kyrgyzstan. The Ministry of Economic Regulation is also collecting data for the Kyrgyz tourism website that will be handed over to IBC for developing a national tourism website.

The project was implemented in 2011 with support of the European Commission.