EU-funded projects to boost renewable energy, investments in small rural tourism enterprises in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

DUSHANBE — Two new ACTED projects — “Promoting Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Community Based Tourism Sector” (Sustainable Energy for Tourism – SET Project) and “Silk Road CBT Initiative: Connecting Central Asian Community-Based Tourism and European Markets” funded by the European Union’s SWITCH-Asia and Central Asia Invest Programmes, aim to strengthen business development support to the Community-Based Tourism sector, and widen their access to sustainable energy. ACTED and partners will implement the two projects in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan until 2023, the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan reported.

International tourist flow to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan has been growing at unprecedented rates in recent years, more than doubling between 2017–2019. The growth of the tourism industry has the potential to bring new opportunities and sources of income and prosperity to some of the most remote and marginalized communities. However, rapid tourist development also has the potential to further increase greenhouse emissions and carbon footprint, contributing to environmental degradation in Central Asia, a region that is already severely vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

The new projects will notably strive to improve the competitiveness of small rural enterprises and support a long-term reduction of the carbon footprint in the tourism sector in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They will be implemented by ACTED, as well as partners: the Association of Private Tourism Organizations of Uzbekistan (APTA), the Kyrgyz CBT Association “Hospitality Kyrgyzstan” (KCBTA), the Tajik CBT Association (TCBTA); Microfinancing Associations NAMI Uzbekistan, AMFOT Tajikistan and AMFI Kyrgyzstan; as well as BizExpert (Kyrgyzstan), TAJNOR (Tajikistan), MascontourGmBH (Germany), and the European Centre for Eco- and Agro-Tourism (ECEAT).

Innovation, inclusion and sustainability are the keywords of these new projects, that will include business and financing support for green energy companies, policy recommendations for Governments, activities to promote regional branding and marketing of the Silk Road, eco-certification schemes, international forums, training for community-based and eco-tourism businesses, and promotion of rural and eco-tourism in Central Asia, especially among European tourists. The projects are implemented over 36 months (January 2020-January 2023), with a total budget of nearly 4 million EUR (2.68 million EUR for Sustainable Energy for Tourism – SET Project and 1.28 million EUR for Silk Road CBT Initiative).