WWF develops green tourism in Republic of Altai
Last year the local communities of Altai received more than 1 mln. roubles as microloans to develop small business initiatives to substitute for extensive nature resource using (rare plants collecting, subsistence and commercial poaching etc). Since 2011 the programme of WWF and Citi Foundation has been active in the most biodiversity reach areas of Altai-Sayan Ecoregion and about 120 local people could start legal business to earn a living through green tourism.
Four administrative units of Republic of Altai with the highest level of biodiversity were chosen as the implementation area of the WWF Programme. The Programme was supported by Citi Foundation. The Programmes is aimed at the local people of the villages located near or within the boundaries of protected areas and the habitats of the rare species such as snow leopard or Altai Argali mountain sheep.
The business beginners are mostly among the participants of the programme. WWF and Citi Foundation help the villagers in not only in getting the loans to start the business the local people are provided the workshops on the basics of the small business, consultations, exchange trips, master-class on local craft.
Tatiana Yashina, WWF Programme Coordinator says: “The main idea of the Programme is to involve local people into business that does not harm environment. The occupation will provide additional income that will substitute the profit from illegal plant harvesting and poaching”.
Some of the people who received first loans became successful businessmen. They opened their business and training courses for the others. Felt making – a craft being resurrected in Altai – is one of the most attractive occupation of local people. Programme participants such as Aisulu Takina or Aisura Tarkhanova are well-known and respected masters who give classes and earn a living through new occupation.
With WWF support www.green-altai.com website was launched. It contains the information and contact info of all green houses, eco-hotels, tourist services etc provided b participants of the Programme. Any tourist can work out its own tourist route and contact the green hotels. It is a free service for all small tourist business among the frameworks of the Programme.
The next step of WWF and Citi is going to be a marketing strategy to effectively promote successful cases of business opened with the Programme help. Local crafts, small businesses, excursions and other tourist services, eco-hotels, green-houses are the main attractions for the tourists of Altai offered by the local people.