Strengthening Rural and Community Tourism Business Intermediate Organisations for Inclusive Development in Central Asia (2017-2020)

An EU supported Central Asia Invest project

Tourism, particularly rural community-tourism, represents an important opportunity for Uzbekistan as well as other Central Asian countries in their efforts to diversify the tourism product portfolio, reduce poverty, preserve local cultures and the environment, generate employment, income, foreign currency, and expand and diversify economies. For the sector to flourish improved cooperation, diversification and upgrading of products and services complying with international quality standards is a prerequisite. Within the framework of the current EU funded project ‘Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in Central Asia’ (2017-2020, Central Asia Invest IV, support will be provided to local Business Intermediary Organisations (BIOs) and tourism SMEs in the rural areas of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This support includes job creation and training for micro enterprises working in the community and ecotourism field. The aim is to improve competitiveness in domestic and foreign markets by increasing the capacity of local tourism service providers, introduction of quality standards and by creating marketing linkages. The project will contribute to strengthened regional economic integration of the Central Asian countries, the awareness of Central Asia as a common tourism destination and the expansion of trade relations with the European Union both B2B and B2C markets.


Overall objective
To strengthen the capacity of rural community tourism Business Intermediate Organisations in Central Asia.

Specific objectives
1. Strengthened and sustained capacity of Business Intermediate Organisations to support their SME-members.
2. Improved national and regional co-operation and best practice exchange.
3. Enhanced linkages between Central Asian and European Business Intermediate Organisations to the benefit of Central Asian SME – businesses.

Target groups

Board members, staff and supporting organisations of regional and national rural / community tourism Business Intermediate Organisations in Central Asia. Focus on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

5.000+ businesses members (SME - businesses) of 20 regional and 4 national tourism Business Intermediate Organisations for rural and community-based tourism in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Final beneficiaries
Communities in underdeveloped rural (mostly mountain) regions with special focus on women and youth.

Estimated results
  1. Provincial and national Business Intermediate Organisations established and strengthened.
  2. Sustained capacity of rural / community tourism associations to facilitate valued services to their members.
  3. Improved support to members in order to upgrade their product quality and sustainability (environment) standards following market expectations.
  4. Enhanced capacity of business associations to advocate the interest of their members among decision makers.
  5. Institutionally based regional co-operation between Central Asian rural / community tourism Business Intermediate Organisations.
  6. Enhanced awareness within Europe for Central Asia as a destination / investment opportunity (with specific attention to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan).
  7. Dissemination and sustainability of established results and institutions.
Main activities
  1. Establishment of the national umbrella community tourism association “Uzbek Community Based Tourism Association” (UCBTA), uniting 3+ provinces; institutional set-up, registration, etc. launch/press event. Strengthening of national and provincial associations in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
  2. Trainings and capacity building seminars and manuals on e.g. membership services, promotion, networking, product development, policy dialogue.
  3. Development of harmonised regional product quality, handling and sustainability / CSR standards for rural / community tourism service providers (home stays, tourism yurts, guides). Central Asian standard meeting in Uzbekistan. CSR trainings for as well rural tourism SME - businesses as their key “buyers” (tour operators). Training manual for responsible tourism in ecological sensitive areas.
  4. Central Asian advocacy and policy dialogue training. Multi stakeholder round tables in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Establishment of a permanent and institutionalised Public – Private partnership (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan). Regional policy meeting in Kazakhstan.
  5. Central Asian platform of national rural tourism Business Intermediate Organisations. Online platform for information exchange and outreach. Networking and study exchange visits between associations in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and possibly Turkmenistan. Regional meetings.
  6. Familiarisation trip of European tour operators / media to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Partner Business Intermediate Organisations visit rural tourism congress of Eurogites (EU association for rural tourism). Event at ITB Berlin tourism fair in partnership with the UN World Tourism Organisation Silk Road initiative. Study tour to rural tourism Business Intermediate Organisations in Germany and Poland. Market intelligence through partnerships with the Netherlands government Centre for the promotion of imports from developing countries ( and the Pacific Asian Travel Association ( International marketing and investment information web site.
  7. Regional Community Baset Tourism (CBT) conference in Uzbekistan (CBT position statement, working groups, top recommendations for regional CBT development), dissemination activities in Europe and Central Asia (online, offline, Europe visibility); evaluation of the project.

Training for tour operators on community based tourism process, product and marketing

news1In order to create awareness for inbound tour operators from Central Asia on community based tourism (CBT) products, training seminars were held in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in June 2018. Participants were trained in successful CBT development by CBT expert Mr. Peter Richards from Thailand who has 15 years of professional experience in the ASEAN region, working at the crossroads of responsible tourism and community development. The training has provided local entrepreneurs with expert knowledge on how to successfully integrate CBT experiences into their packages and how to work in partnership with rural communities. The training was designed to be content-heavy in the morning, and interactive after lunch. Trainees put ideas and techniques into practice through role play, theater and small group games. The trainings served as a kick off for the Central Asian tourism entrepreneurs to further work on the inclusion of CBT experiences into their programs. Successful and innovative Central Asian CBT experiences, both national and cross-country, will be further developed and actively marketed and promoted (B2B and B2C) in Europe where theres is a growing demand for CBT. Activities take place within the framework of the three year EU funded tourism project (Central Asia Invest IV Programme) ‘Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in Central Asia’. Project partners will be present during Europe’s main travel trade fairs to promote the Central Asian CBT programs. In addition, cooperation will take place with the UN-World Tourism Organisation Silk Road Programme whose aim is to enhance cross-country and multi-stakeholder collaboration for sustainable tourism development in the countries of the Silk Road, including the Central Asian region.

Central Asian Tour Operators and Hoteliers trained in Corporate Social Responsibility

In February 2018, 2 day training seminars were held to train Uzbek and Kazakh tour operating businesses in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sustainability concepts and sustainability news2standards. In addition, 1 day seminars were organized for hoteliers in both countries to train them in CSR for the accommodation sector. Venues of the seminars were the Hotel Miran in Tashkent and Hotel Almaty in Almaty. Seminars were provided by sustainability expert Mr. Chris Thompson from the United Kingdom. Chris draws on 30 years of practical experience which has taken him to hundreds of holiday destinations in over 30 different countries. In total, more than 120 participants joined during the four February 2018 seminars that took place within the framework of the EU – Central Asia Invest IV funded project called ‘Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in Central Asia’; a three year project that started in February 2017.news3 The aim of this project is to improve Central Asia’s competitiveness in domestic and foreign markets by increasing the capacity of local tourism service providers, the introduction of quality standards and by creating marketing linkages with the European outbound travel market. Nowadays, common non-legal requirements to tap into the European travel market concern reliability, liability, sustainability and the protection of children in tourism. As a result, CSR/sustainability certification is well on its way to becoming a mainstream requirement. The trainings provided, consisted of a mix of presentations, practical exercises, discussions and question/answer sessions. It was based on the existing Travelife CSR/sustainability training for the European tourism industry as developed by ECEAT in co-operation with UNEP and the Dutch and UK tour operator associations in the frame of the EU LIFE supported Travelife initiative ( Trainees were highly satisfied with the training content and lessons learned. They all received their training certificates at the end of the training day and will be provided further access to the Travelife sustainability management and award system. During the EU project they will be further supported to implement sustainability within their organizations and supply-chain by marking use of the Travelife system.


These are the public deliverables prepared within the framework of the Central Asia Invest IV project Strengthening rural and community tourism Business Intermediary Organisations for Inclusive Economic Development in in Central Asia’:

Provincial and national Business Intermediary Organisations established and strengthened

Kick off workshops

Establishment of 6 new provincial CBT service providers networks

Development of branding tools

Strengthening associations capacity

Institutional capacity building of Uzbek and Kazakh CBT BIOs

Training of tourism SME Trainers in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

Outreach: training workshops for SMEs

Quality standards and accreditation

Development of product quality standards

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism Development

Development of Uzbek and Kazakh industry based sustainability standards

Improve business climate for the development of Community Based Tourism

Establishing a co-operation model with the national government

Central Asian co-operation

Study tour to the Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association

Common exchange meetings

Almaty, April 2017

Bishkek, October 2017

Almaty, October 2017

Web links


  • Establishment of new provincial CBT service providers network


  • Training of tourism SME Trainers


  • CSR training for Uzbek tour operators and hoteliers


  • Development of branding tools



  • Development of branding tools


  • Establishment of the Uzbek and Kazakh Community Based Tourism Associations



  • Development of branding tools

Updated web portals and profiles


For more information about the project, please contact:

Mr. Naut Kusters
Project manager
T: +31-(0)6-48805475