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First steps towards ecological tourism in the Balkhash district

24 december 2021
On November 30 the project "Environmental Thinking is the key to a successful future" of WWF Russia and the Citi Foundation, was concluded.

Over the course of 2021, activities were held in several villages of Balkhash district with the aim of environmental education for young people aged 14 to 24 years. The first stage of the project included conducting educational seminars on learning English in schools, on the context of the study of eco-tourism. Despite quarantine restrictions and communication problems, the participants from Bakanas, Karoy, and Koktal villages showed motivation and involvement in the learning process.

The program also included educational excursions with accompanied by teachers and parents. Participants had the opportunity to visit one of the largest natural history museums of Kazakhstan, at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University.

“Having the young participants involved in the process of learning about ecotourism was extremely important to WWF and Citi Foundation over the course of this project. Therefore, we tried to add interest to the educational program, where in addition to theory, participants had the opportunity to see everything in practice. So in parallel to conducting dozens of seminars and lectures, educational trips to places of interest were also organized. I want to note that the length of the road from Balkhash district to Almaty is about 420 km in one direction, which amounts up to about 6 hours of travel! So that the journey would not appear exhaustingly long, educational games and lectures about the animal world were held on the bus for the participants. For many this marked their first time visiting the museum and other stops on the tour, and we are infinitely glad to provide them with this opportunity.” - says the director of the WWF Central Asian Program, Grigory Mazmanyants.”
WWF Russia

During the second stage of the learning project, we held a film screening that was prepared within the framework of the project.

“After screening this movie in the Kazakh language, a survey was conducted among the participants of the seminar to assess the potential of ecotourism development in the Balkhash district. According to the results, more than 90 percent of respondents were interested in ecotourism and working with foreigner tourists, and demonstrated a desire to master various kinds of souvenir crafts.” - notes G. Mazmanyants.
WWF Russia

Training seminars were held for local residents and communities on the topic of creating tourist infrastructure, with participation from tourism experts, tour guides, coordinators from around the world, as well as the founders and operators of the first guest houses in the tourist destination village of Saty. Experts shared their experience in creating and further promoting ecotourism services, spoke about the cultural differences between tourists from different countries, and gave general recommendations on ensuring comfort for travelers. A special additional edition of a manual in two languages on the organization of guest houses, originally prepared by the Kazakhstan Tourism Association (KTA) was re-released for the participants of the seminars.

Upon completion of the project, a large two-day educational excursion to the Kolsai Lakes National Park (Saty village) and the Charyn National Park took place. The participants visited guest houses and met with local residents of the village, who talked to them about ecotourism and ecology in general.

WWF Russia

Overall, more than 100 young people received training. The most active participants of the project were awarded certificates of successful completion of the educational course. Having received an initial level of knowledge in English, having passed trainings on organizing excursions for tourists and familiarized themselves with the activities of guest houses, the project participants became more prepared to work with both local and foreign guests!

For additional information please contact
Director of the Central Asian Program Office of WWF-Russia