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Uzbekistan clinches its first ever International TO DO Award

4 February 2015

Uzbekistan has won its first ever International TO DO! award that goes to responsible tourism organizations every year.

The TO DO! 2014 awards included winners from Costa Rica, India, and Uzbekistan, and the 20th Award Ceremony of the International Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism will be held on March 4, 2015 at ITB Berlin. TO DO! awards are equally distributed among winners, and this is first time Uzbekistan contested for an award, and the Samarkand-based responsible tourism organization, Silk Road Destinations (C.A.T.I.A), won this prestigious responsible tourism award.

“At ITB Berlin 2015, the TO DO! will be awarded to tourism projects that implement socially responsible tourism development in an extraordinary manner. In the 20th contest round, projects from 10 countries have been submitted, including from Uzbekistan for the first time. The expert jury selected 3 projects, each of which was checked on location. All these projects confirmed the positive impression from the applications submitted,” said the press statement issued by TO DO! authorities.

Despite all the differences, the three equal winners of the TO DO! 2014 Contest which came from Costa Rica, India, and Uzbekistan, all have one characteristic in common – they are all exemplary examples of responsible tourism, and they are all involved with the local population in a kind of tourism that is managed sustainably. They create alternative sources of income and strengthen self-awareness of local culture and traditions.

Silk Road Destinations (C.A.T.I.A) is an incoming tour operator in Uzbekistan that set up a community-based project in the remote village of Mitan. In Mitan, the guests get into direct contact with local families and their Muslim culture and traditions. The project is aimed at generating an additional income for the villagers. It is also meant to contribute to cultural exchange and to a better understanding between people with different social and religious backgrounds.

This project namely, “Mitan Responsible Tourism Project,” is unique in a way that no local or foreign funding is involved in this project from the stage of initialization to the level of its operation comparing to other Community Based Development (CBD) or Community Based Tourism (CBT) projects as most of them have local or foreign donations/funding at almost every stage of the project.

This project is more than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) because Silk Road Destinations (SRD) Company was not getting any business or economical benefit from this area before initiating and launching this project in Mitan village. This remote village had never been on the tourism map of Uzbekistan as a “destination” until a tourism operation was started by Silk Road Destinations (C.A.T.I.A) and visitors were introduced to this village.

This project is exceptional in the region (of Central Asia) as it is providing practical training of tourism development and destination management to youth of a remote area at their doorstep and creating a tourism workforce for the future so youth of this small village can ensure their jobs in the tourism sector in the future.

This project is providing a model of interfaith harmony to youth of this Muslim community and facilitates a face-to-face intercultural dialogue among groups and individuals having different social and religious backgrounds.