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Russian & Kyrg Article
about Community Based Tourism (CBT)

by Philip McMaster in Kyrgystan Tourism Journal - August 2002


People living in mountains are special, no matter from which part of the world they are. They are closer to the sky and have deeper understanding of how to treat travelers.

I was born in a small village with population 1000 people located in Laurentian Mountains, 76 km North of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

I was happy to discover that the culturally rich people in Kyrgyzstan are living among the highest and youngest mountains on the other side of the world. In the eastern part of Canada, we live among the oldest mountains in the world, but we are relatively young nation.

Kyrgystan has the silk road. Our silk road is made of rivers and lakes used for drifting logs from north. Small Tourism Development communities in Kirgizstan and in Canada are very much alike. We offer simple accommodation in B&B, (Bed and Breakfast) skiing, rock-climbing, horse riding, rafting, ornithology tours, walking and unique types of cultural tourism.

One of the good examples is a tour called going to a “Sugar Shack”. Sweet maple sap runs out of the Maple tree in the spring time. The juice turns into a sugar syrup when it is boiled in a big pot inside a small house or "Shack" . The syrup is dripped on fresh snow and eaten. The members of the community tourism project dressed in their native costumes meet tourists and serve them this unique syrup with other foods from the national cuisine.

We all know, that for centuries, the people in Kyrgyzstan have been treating travelers as their friends and provided services for them along the Silk Road. Friendliness towards travelers explains the long-term success of the Kyrg people.

How do marketing and advertizing work?
Marketing in Canada is not much different from marketing in Kyrgyzstan or Kenya. Marketing coordinates resources and transforms them into unique product where there is a demand. It is as simple as being a guest. A guest doesn't understand your customs (culture) until they arrive, but they come to your community to learn about your culture. You must listen to your guests, learn from them, understand what their expectations are and try to provide them with information and service, at the same time teaching them about your usual way of life, your culture and environment.

Old and New
Until recently, it was difficult to understand how marketing worked because marketing depended on understanding the global economy and creating one kind of marketing to serve the whole world. But because old marketing styles have changed and today we use more personal and individual approach. New marketing methods are more profitable due to reduced number of go-betweens (middle-men) and direct and responsible contact with tourists. It is a tourist who makes a choice and determines the quality of services provided by society (community).

There are specialists in marketing who say, “Pay me and I’ll do all marketing and advertise your business”. But in reality it doesn’t work. The most effective marketing is a direct interaction from source of product (service provider) to customer (tourist), providing constant and high quality approach. Every member of society has to participate in successful marketing.

"Sweet syrups of Canada"
Generating millions of dollars of revenue, “Sweet Syrup” is an example of successful Community Based Tourism marketing.

Local communities cooperate well with local authorities to raise money for the benefit of everyone in our mountain societies.

In next issue we will discuss the ways Community Based Tourism services are provided and our achievements in international marketing.

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