It is not by chance that the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association has “Development” in its name. Involving the local inhabitants in tourism development, ZTDA aims to improve the well-being of the local communities: to reduce poverty, create new jobs, and at the same time conserve the fragile environment of the region as well as preserve the cultural heritage.
The ZTDA works keeping in mind the four following principles:
- Participation of the local communities in ZTDA activities;
- Financial Transparency and Transparency in the activity of all members of ZTDA;
- Supporting local initiatives and maintaining development of the Tourism Initiative Groups;
- Conservation of the natural environment and cultural heritage.
Touch the nature and feel the history
The Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA) is a young, public, community based organization created in March 2008. The aim of the project is to help establish “Community Based Tourism in the Zerafshan Valley”, to be implemented by the local NGO ASDP NAU and the German NGO Welthungerhilfe. Financial support meanwhile comes from the European Commission. ZTDA aims to develop a brand of sustainable tourism in the region which is adapted to local society, culture and the fragile environment. Today, ZTDA represents the interests of its members who provide tourist services ranging from accommodation in traditional home stays to transportation and mountain guides. In August 2008, ZTDA received a license to implement tourist activities from the Committee on Tourism, Sport and Youth of Tajikistan. Since then, ZTDA has been organizing sustainable tourism in the Zerafshan Valley; working with the local service providers in enhancing the organization and program of the tours.
In order to improve the quality of the services provided, ZTDA’s members participate in professional training courses. These programs focus on various issues such as running a home stay, environmental care, marketing and business management. To ensure quality, ZTDA is working on internal standardization of these services as well as tourist products. As ZTDA is promoting an ethical form of tourism, we pay close attention to the environmental impact of tourism by creating relevant tour packages and capacity building activities. We have also initiated ecological initiatives at community level. An example of this was a recent seminar with local children held by ZTDA and a partner organization designed to educate them on rubbish disposal.