Tourist sector in Humsan-Aktash area (continuation)

The best time for the abovementioned routes is:
• Trekking: April-late June and September-middle of October;
• Mountaineering: May-September;
• Rafting: May-July;
• Horseback riding: June-July and September-October;
• Bicycling: May-October;
• Para-gliding and hang-gliding: May — October;
• Fishing: as permitted;
• Mountain skiing and snowboarding: January — later March.

Tourist product. Identification and description
• Route# 1 (hiking and horseback riding): village Humsan-the pass to Aktash- descending to railway station Khodjikent (2 days);
• Route# 2 (water): rafting on catamarans or inflammable rafts along Uzbekistan’s part of the Ugam river (1 day);
• Route#3 (hiking or horseback riding): along the extremities of the Ugam ridge (1 day);
• Route#4: rest along the Ugam river in guesthouse of local residents;
• Route#5 (hiking): ascending to a vista point on the slopes of the Karjantau ridge near village Humsan (1 day);

Timeframe: July-October

Real tours in Humsan-Aktash area:

Horseback riding along the Karjantau ridge (horseback riding and hiking route # 6)
Day 1 Transfer from Tashkent to mountain village Humsan located in the Ugam river valley between the Ugam ridge and the Karjantau ridge of the West Tien-Shan (90 km, 2 hr). Accommodation at house of local resident. Walking around nearby surroundings. Acquaintance with local traditions and life-style. Rest along the Ugam river.
Day 2 Horseback riding from Dalya village (1000 m.) to head water of the Urkutsay river. View to the valley of the Chirchik river. Descend to Dalya village. Meeting with car. Transfer to Tashkent (90 km, 2 hrs.).

Humsan-pustonlyk (horse riding route # 7)
Day 1 Evening transfer from Tashkent to Humsan village situated in the picturesque valley of the Ugam river at the junction of the Ugam ridge with the Karjantau ridge, the West Tien-Shan (90 km, 1,5 hrs). Accommodation at houses of local people. Dinner.
Day 2 After early breakfast, horseback riding along the gorge of the Pustonlyk river to the place named Pustonlyk-bouva (7 km. 1,5 hrs). Walking to the Kyrk-Kokyl waterfall (in Uzbek ‘Kyrk-Kokyl’ means 40 plaits). Return to horses. Horseback riding to Humsan village. Lunch. Rest along the Ugam river. Evening transfer to Tashkent (90 km, 1,5 hrs.)

To source of the Kansay river (horseback riding route # 8)

Day 1 Transfer from Tashkent to mountain village Darya at the foot of the Karjantau ridge, the West Tien-Shan (90 km; 1 hr 30 min). Horseback riding along the left-bank slope of the Kansay river to Kourgantash. Pass (3 hrs.). Stop for lunch in the summer dwelling of herdsman near source of the Kansay river. Walking on the slopes and going out to panorama points. Wonderful view to the Ugam, Pskem, Chatkal ridges of the West Tien-Shan, Charvak and Khodjakent water reservoir. After lunch descending along the flat right-bank range of Kansay river to Dalya village (2 hrs). Stop at house of local man. After short rest with tea-drinking, meet with a car. Evening transfer to Tashkent (90 km; 1 hr 30 min). Activities description. The following activity was defined to be potentially applied to the Humsan-Aktash area.

Recreation outings. This form of rest and travels is the most popular among visitors to the Humsan-Aktash zone: 70 percent of visitors prefer to stay along the river on trestle-beds or in houses and go for short mountain outings to get acquainted with local landscapes, collect herbs and flowers.
This type of tourism should be given more attention by means of development of excursions to local sights having cognitive and recreation importance.

Group/family picnics. Picnics are specific type of rest for the residents of Tashkent as natural conditions of the Humsan-Aktash area create a certain atmosphere for family leisure. An overwhelming majority of picnic lovers stay along the Ugam river (50
percent of all visitors to village Humsan).

Active tourism. Horseback riding, trekking, and fishing are the types of tourism that have good opportunities in Humsan and are most rapidly developing.
Not complicated routes need to be developed and offered for mass trekking and horseback riding. The main target group should be tourists aged from 20 to 40 years old.

Excursions by special interests. Special excursions need to be organized by types as follows: botany, ethnography (folklore, gastronomy, traditions), and handicrafts. According to provisional data, these are of interest of not less than 30 percent of visitors to the Humsan-Aktash area.

Combined tour packages..

Educational group excursions..

Swot analysis for eco-tourism development
Based on the information gathered, experience gained and observations made, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on eco-tourism development in Humsan-Aktash has been made, below.

Tourism products and infrastructure
Access. The existing road network is considered as sufficient, especially because a new highway has been constructed recently, between Tashkent and Charvak reservoir. Public transport is however mostly provided by old uncomfortable buses. Therefore microbuses (Damas, Faf) and private taxis would be a more convenient alternative.

Activities proposed::
A. Transportation services
Transportation services for tourist coming by public transport should be rendered in Tashkent and Gazalkent to Humsan and Aktash. These services could be rendered either by local CBT or taxi drivers.

B. Border crossingss
Border crossings should be made possible again. This will allow tourist flows from especially Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan towards the Charvak reservoir area and Ugam-Chatkal National Park. It is exacted that the Agreement on the establishment of the West Tien Shan Trans-boundary Biosphere Reserve, that is assumed to be signed between the three countries involved in due course, will help and easing border crossing regulations. Further lobbying is needed however.

Attractions, historical and natural sites..
Activities proposed:
A. Inventory
An inventory of archaeological, natural, and cultural sites and attractions in the Chimgan-Beldersay area is recommended, and an assessment of restoration and preservation needs for these sites as well.

B. Restoration and preservation of sites
Restoration of religious monuments in the Humsan-Aktash area is needed, including tree planting for recreation around the monuments and the immediate surrounding hills.

C. Sign boarding and advertisement
Installation of tourist signboards with information about cultural and historical attractions is needed. Leaflets should be produced that inform about the historical and cultural values of main sacred places in Ugam-Chatkal National Park including the Humsan-Aktash area and routes (in Uzbek/Russian/English).

Tourism routes and tours. Routes and tours should be identified and developed on the basis of existing attractions (cultural, natural, landscapes) in close collaboration with interested tour operators and local stakeholders..

Activities proposed:
A. Route development
Identification of existing and potential routes within the Humsan-Aktash area and Ugam-Chatkal National Park based on historical paths and interests of tour operators and tourists. Description and if necessary routes indication including assessment of potential investments (e.g. bridges, guiding signs, route construction or rehabilitation).

Starting point of such routes may be the CBT villages Humson and Aktash, or the Protected Areas of Ugam-Chatkal National Park. Routes can be for walking or horse riding. Trans-boundary routes should also be developed connecting different areas such as:

• Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan through Chatkal valley;
• Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan, in the Ugam range;
• Ugam-Chatkal national Park-Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve;
• Tashkent province-other regions of Uzbekistan.

Alternatives for trans-boundary routes should be identified if current border regulations will not change in the foreseeable future.

B. Tour elaboration and promotion
Development of tours based on identified routes, in cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan CBT networks and tour operators, publishing and advertisement through these networks.

Local culture. The Humsan-Aktash area is rich in cultural and folk traditions, and for the traditional way of living. Demonstration of this cultural heritage will enrich the tourist experience.

Activities proposed::
A. Detailed identification of cultural traditions
Further identification and description of existing culture traditions within the Humsan-Aktash area.

B. Familiarization with culture traditions
Organization of performances for tourists in cooperation with CBTs and local folk companies.

C. Handicrafts and souvenirss
Setting up the production and selling of handicrafts. Support the development of specific souvenirs
based on local traditions or historic events within the Humsan-Aktash area.

Tourism service sector development.. A professional tourism service sector is a requisite for tourism development. At present professional skills for eco-tourism development such as accommodation services, guides, horses riding services, food providing and transport services are absent in the identified areas.

Careful selection of potential service providers for their further training and marketing is essential. It should be avoided that service providers are selected who are not able to comply with basic quality standards, or that more service providers are trained than the market can absorb. Therefore it is important that CBT development programs are connected with a marketing strategy i.e. involving tourist firms into selection process to avoid disappointment and inappropriate investments.

Identified and trained services providers should supply needs of the market jointly (for example, for one developing site 1-2 accommodation providers, one horses provider, one guide, etc.)..

Within the framework of the WTSBC Project, groups of existing and potential service providers were identified in order to jointly raise quality standards and fulfill marketing activities. In Uzbekistan the CBT concept has only recently be introduced. Legalization of this concept is necessary, and also there is need to establish a CBT Association for coordination with similar existing organizations in Kyrgyzstan (e.g. KCBTA) and Kazakhstan (KTA).

Accommodation sector. Basic services already exist in the Humsan-Aktash area. There is a necessity to develop professional skills for accommodation services (private guesthouses) in the villages and provision of seasonal nature-oriented arrangements (tours).

Activities proposed:
A. Private guesthouse development
Taking into consideration the limited number of hotels in the area, private guesthouses can become alternatives when these can offer appropriate accommodation and services. Private guesthouses could be established with small investments and result in a significant income contribution to local famines and the local community. Also private guesthouses will allow tourists a direct and individual contact with the local population and culture.

It is proposed to begin with 1-3 private guesthouses per village. These accommodation places should be an example for further similar development in the region. Below are some important criteria for identification of private guest houses:

• Quiet and serene environment;
• Clean, sanitary and tidy premises;
• Good relations with host family;
• Provide “bed and breakfast” services;
• Services provider should be open to competition and able to provide quality.

B. Providing accommodation in nature areas
While tourism is in an early stage of development, staying overnight in nature areas should integrated in the local CBT group.

Food providing services. Tourists staying at private guesthouses will usually be served by their owners. For larger groups this may not be possible. In the Humsan-Aktash area there are only few establishments that provide food services. Most of these are located along the roads or in private residences and almost all in the tourist season only. They offer fruits and vegetables, milk products, dinner courses (meat dishes, soups), flat bread, soft drinks made of local products (stewed fruits, sherbet). Drivers and tourists use these establishments. However, no one seems to monitor quality and safety of the food.

Activities proposed:
A. Establishment of café/restaurant
At least one cafe of restaurant should be established in each target village. Staff should be trained to provide food services for individual tourists and for larger tourist groups (up to 15-20 persons). The latter can also be provided by an ad hoc “restaurant” by a group of local service providers taking responsibility to cater for tourists.

B. Training
In order to be able to cater for different kinds of tourists, it is important to understand specific wishes (e.g. vegetarian food). It is advised that food service providers (as well as private guesthouses that serve local restaurants) follow a specific wishes (e.g. vegetarian food). It is advised that food service providers (as well as private guesthouses that serve local restaurants) follow a specific training “international kitchen”.

C. Stimulating the use of local
In order to support the local economy and to provide fresh, local and ecological food, the use of local products should be stimulated (e.g. milk, butter, freshly backed bread, meat, etc.). Collaboration between food providers and food producers should be stimulated.

Guide services. Most of the offered walking and horse riding routes require guide services. At present there are no professional guides in the Humsan-Aktash area. Except for training for guides it is necessary to tram employees of Protected Areas as well. At present there are no specialized training programs or courses on guiding services in Central Asia, and there is neither a certification system in place. But local CBT have people who know the area well and they can work as guides. They should be trained hi the basics of services and hospitality, how to operate routes, what to tell tourists, where to stop for rest, how to provide safety, etc.
Teachers of local schools may be trained as guides, particularly teachers in geography, history, biology and physical training. Of these there are at least 30 candidates in the area.

Activities proposed:
A. Selection and training of guides
Selection of potential guides based on experience, communication skills and knowledge of specific features of the region. Probably tour operators could be involved in the selection, because they will collaborate with these future service providers. It is proposed to use existing training material for local CBT guides and Protected Areas employees. Skilled tour operators can conduct trainings.

B. Handbook about the region
It is proposed to publish a simple handbook for guides and the local population with information about the region, the history of the Humsan-Aktash area, etc. It may be distributed through schools in the Humsan-Aktash area.

Horse riding. Horse riding tours are one of the most attractive ways of exploring the natural attractions of the Humsan-Aktash area. Horses are available in large numbers but there is a need to train horsemen/guides and horses for serving tourists. Horses are privately owned (30% of the families own horses), but not everyone is willing to rent out horses.

Activities proposed:
A. Selection and training of horsemen
Selection and training of horsemen and horses (in start points of routes). Training should be possible by hiring other more skilled riders from other regions in Uzbekistan.

Motorized transport services. Travel to the Humsan-Aktash area by public transport can be exhausting. In most cases a car or minibus is required for reaching the starting point of a route. In principle this service is available but easier hiring conditions for tourists should be provided. In Humsan most of the transport means that are available are old (dating from Soviet time) and unreliable.

Activities proposed:
A. Selection and training of drivers
An inventory is needed of existing drivers and cars for hire. Training of drivers should be in accordance with existing security standards.

Training and capacity building. The quality of existing service providers should be unproved.

Activities proposed:
A. Training conducted by Tashkent tourist firms
Training (for potential) local (CBT) services providers.

B. International volunteers
Attracting volunteers from “USA Peace Corps” and organizations for individual and language training.

C. Handbooks
Distribution of handbooks developed for tour providers.

D. Education manuals
Distribution of education manuals for example as developed by the faculty of international tourism, Tashkent State University of Economics; German Association of Public Universities IIZ/DVV; Association of Private Tourist Organizations; etc.

Eco-tourism development in Protected Areas. Tourism can generate income and support nature protection. If not well managed, tourism can also have a negative impact. Therefore it is essential to develop sustainable forms of tourism, which will satisfy the needs of tourists and provide an active (financial) contribution to the protection of nature as well.

STRENGTHS WEAKNESS
Product Product
•Attractive area because of proximity to the capital and appropriate infrastructure, which is more powerful as compared with other areas of Ugam-Chatkal National Park.
•Ugam-Chatkal National Park is a natural habitat of rare Menzbir’s marmot and various wild fruit trees. There is significant flora and fauna, which is interesting for specialized tourists. There are also beautiful and diverse landscapes.
•This area is a skiing resort of Central Asia, operating to present day, and requiring to be developed with high-quality services and an extended assortment.
•Bostanlyk region is a part of the Silk Road. Three ancient settlements in the area are marked on the official tourist map.
•The area keeps national way of life and longstanding housekeeping, and also unique cultural heritage (many historical points of interest). Crafts and folklore is developed.
•Climatic conditions are favorable in any season, even in winter.
•Relatively stable political and social situation.
•Quiet and serene atmosphere (low density of population and few industries). •Hospitality and friendliness of local population.
•Local people provide accommodation, opportunity to rent horses, guide services. •The proposed Trans-boundary Biosphere Reserve West Tien Shan allows regulation of development in the future.
•Difficult access from other regions of Uzbekistan for uncoordinated tourists.
•Borders with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are closed, complicated formalities are required.
•Ecosystems are under intense and increasing pressure of man.
•Absence of significant capital for investment in tourist products.
•Quality of services is generally low.
•Poor sanitary conditions: there is no “hygienic mentality”.
•Absence of written information about existing products (price-lists, menus, activities program).
•Lack of guide-boards in rural areas (if there are but only in native language) making traveling for tourists difficult.
•Lack of those speaking foreign languages (except for Russian).
•Stakeholders (government, private tourist organizations, local people) do not have enough capital for investments.
Market Services
•Planned establishment of the Trans-boundary Biosphere Reserve West Tien Shan will create advertisement effect.
•Neighboring city centers in Central Asia offer potential target groups.
•Markets of West and South-Eastern Asia also have prospective for tourists attraction to the Humsan-Aktash area
•Lack of credit lines for small-scale businessmen.
•Insufficient communication between tourist firms and local people.
•Uncomfortable and low standard public transport facilities.
•Complicated taxation system does not promote tourist business development.
•Few people experienced in management of tourist businesses.
•Insufficient training programs for tourist reception and entertainment.
•Lack of experience in tourism promotion on the international market.
•Educational programs do not meet international standards.
•Available practical experience of travel bureaus is hardly used in training programs.

Market
•Low purchasing capacity of the local population does not allow developing tourism effectively.
•Absence or poor image of Uzbekistan in western countries that impedes tourist flows.
•Lack of market information/research.
•Absence of obligatory information for visitors.
•Military and political conflicts influence the general conception of the region (Batken events, warriors outbreak in Tashkent in 1999 and 2000, Afghanistan, drugs trafficking).
•Local tourist information services are accessible only for some consumers.
•Little interest of tourist firms in working with local people and CBT.

OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
Product Product
•Projects working in Ugam-Chatkal National Park and in Humsan-Aktash area are of use and should be developed.
•Unique Seeling Points (UES) are the specific features of the Humsan-Aktash area being relatively close to Tashkent.
•The Chimgan-Beldersay area is part of the Ugam-Chatkal National Park, and not far from urban areas in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan which creates potential for trans-boundary activities. •Development of Community-based Tourism. •Development of souvenir (arts and crafts) production and sales.
•Develop quality standards in an early stage of product development.
•Develop tourist routes (vehicles, horse, walking, cycling).
•There are pans to build private guesthouses, which may attract foreign capital.
•Tourists have limitations in moving along Bostanlyk region due to frontier regulations although the Humsan-Aktash area is far away from the border and affected by these regulations.
•Continuous political uncertainty and instability in Central Asia scares away potential foreign tourists. •Population poverty leads to irrational use of natural resources.
•Absence of appropriate resources for nature and biodiversity conservation.
•Tourist firms do not have a common strategy for eco-tourism development in Ugam-Chatkal National Park.
Market Market
•Proximity to Tashkent with its developing market and linkage with Russia and Europe through air and railway transport lines.
•Number of foreign visitors to Uzbekistan is increasing gradually.
•International interest to eco-tourism increases. Searching new places by eco-tourists as alternative to more populous and crowded routes.
•Attracting “New Riches” from Russia and Kazakhstan.
•Use of potential of Uzbek tourist firms for eco-tourism marketing.
•Develop the program for joint advertisement and image creation by business sector (including eco-tourism manual, web-sites in Internet, tourist information centers).
•Make use of mass media for promotion and awareness-raising.
•The government makes significant investments in the tourist sector in the Humsan-Aktash recreation area.
Know-how
•Use of local specialists’ potential and experience in educational methods and courses development.
•Use new technologies in tourism – reservation system on Internet, forecast and routes capacity.
•Political situation between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in respect of borders may not change for many years.
•Loss of newly developed image by delivering bad products.
•Continuous vulnerability of tourist market in face of political disturbances and natural disasters.
•There are competitive tourist centers in Uzbekistan – Nuratau – Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve.
•There are competitive tourist centers outside Central Asia – China, India, Korea, Thailand.
Spatial planning and resource management
•Development of tourism strategy for the region (regional tourist general plan) and appropriate plans for tourist areas.
•Conservation of tourist resources and quality improvement in accordance with existing legislation.
Marketing
•Raising too many expectations while product does not yet meet the standards as promoted.
Unpredictability of political developments (new government, new laws) and their impact on tourism business/development.

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