WWF developed recommendations for ecotourism development in Altai
It’s been already six years since the start of the Joint Programme WWF and Citi Foundation in Republic of Altai on local communities’ livelihood raising. Tens of people in snow leopard habitats have been granted loans and trained to develop new small business initiatives to shift from extensive wildlife practices to sustainable income generating. Ecotourism and eco-souvenirs making were the main spheres of interest. About 200 new jobs were created and to upgrade the business of local people up to a new level WWF developed the set of recommendations for ecotourism development in the region. The recommendation can be used by governmental authorities, NGOs and private sector for sustainable and effective ecotourism development.
The Foundation presented proposals for creating a single eco-brand of the region and directions for promoting rural, «green» tourism.
WWF proposals for the development of ecotourism - the most sparing kind of tourism for the environment - have been delivered to the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of the Altai Republic. They were presented at a round table on October, 25 at the camp site «Manzherok» near the city of Gorno-Altaisk.
The representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of the RA, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Property Relations of the RA, administrations of Ulagan and Kosh-Agach districts, the Gorno-Altai State University, the Katunsky Reserve, participants in the WWF and the Fund Citi participated in the round table on the development of «green» tourism.
The need to prepare proposals for the development of a united state strategy for the development of the «green» tourism of Altai has become urgent for WWF specialists after several years of work of the special program WWF and the Citi Foundation for Sustainable Livelihoods. This program was launched in 2010 and it is aimed at the developing sources of income that are alternative to illegal hunting, gathering wild plants, illegal logging. One of such promising sources for the residents of Gorny Altai is ecotourism.
«As part of the program, dozens of training seminars, voyages to experience exchange, microloans for opening a small business, more than 40 tourist sites and 178 jobs have been held,» said Natalya Trofimova, the director of the Altai-Sayan branch of WWF. «With the help of professionals, proposals have been prepared for the centralized development of this activity.»
At the round table, where the recommendations were presented, the local residents, whose initial experience in organizing «green» tourism, for the most part, gained self-interest, aroused a keen interest. All of them are participants of the WWF and Citi program. Ludmila Sartakova from the Ulagan district started tourism, because she could not find an official job. The usual boat passage opened by her grew over time to a small camp site. Andrei Sopo from the Kosh-Agach region, formerly unemployed, now knows everyone as the hospitable owner of the «green» house and a magnificent guide.
«The proposed recommendations for the development of tourism are prepared by professionals in this field - the consulting group» City of Masters «(St. Petersburg). The author of the developments was Rybakova Julia Lvovna, an expert on regional development, tourism and marketing, - says Tatyana Yashina, deputy director of the Katunsky Reserve, director of the Altai-Sayansky Mountain Partnership NGO. - Ideally, the »green« tourism of Altai should have a common brand. Our proposals are collected in the following areas: »Active« (horse tours, extreme tourism), »Ethno« (crafts, holidays, local life and culture), »Eco' (eco-houses, walking tours, etc.).
According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of the Altai Republic, the flow of tourists to the region is increasing every year. Only in the eight months of 2016 the Altai Mountains were visited by about one million hundred thousand visitors. Most tourists come from major cities of the Siberian Federal District and Central Russia, there are guests from other countries. Two-thirds of the collective accommodation facilities for vacationers are for «green» tourism.