The project "Golden Altai - wealth for local development", developed by Slovak NGOs Machaon International and Sosna in co-operation with Kazakh partners - NGOs EcoAltai, TEC and Boomerang, has won the grant competition "Regional development in Kazakhstan" organized by the European Commission. The main aim of the project is to foster the development of sustainable rural tourism in the East Kazakhstan oblast as a suitable tool for levelling off disparities in regional development, improving the social environment and rural livelihoods.
The project will be implemented in the period 2014-2016 in the Kazakh part of Altai – a remarkable area of high ecological, cultural and historical value. The project area encompasses 3 protected areas declared by WWF as ‘Gift to the Earth’ - a designation provided to the most important wilderness areas of the world. There is a process underway to inscribe the Markakol Lake Nature Reserve and Katon Karagai National Park on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage list. This indicates special value and uniqueness of the project area and is an evidence of excellent conditions for tourism and recreation, which are so far under-developed. Only about 10.000 visitors per year visit the area, mainly going to mountain spas and recreation sites near lakes. In comparison, the neighbouring Russian part of Altai is visited by 2 millions and the Chinese part (Kanas lake area) by 1,5 million visitors each year.
The project actions aim to transfer rich European experience in rural tourism development to local NGOs, protected areas and authorities in the region through co-operation with and study-tours organized in National Park Gesäuse in Austria, Wallachian Open-air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm in the Czech Republic and Rzeszow Regional Development Agency in Poland. Selected approaches and know-how of EU partners will be int.
The proposed project addresses the problem of geographical remoteness of the project area which limits the access of rural people to new skills. The rural people can enhance their skills in workshops on traditional crafts, cuisine, guest and guides services. Thanks to the proposed action, rural entrepreneurs and craft masters will be better linked with tourists as main recipients of their production and services. The craftsmen will be able to demonstrate their skills at suitable events and to gain valuable feedback and inspiration for their further work and to increase their income via effective promotion of their production.
The development and arrangement of ‘social integration programmes’ will contribute to improved adaptation of orphans and teenagers with disabilities to socio-economic environment, to strengthened mental and physical health of teenagers and to improved quality of life of these disadvantaged groups of young people helping them with professional orientation.
The project supports sensitive development of information and accommodation facilities, strengthens the identity of one of the richest regions in natural and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. A balanced mix of tourist attractions, promotional materials, events will be used to facilitate full provision of necessary information for travelling to and within the Kazakh part of Altai and to guarantee better appreciation of this unique heritage by visitors and guests. Inclusion of modern means of promotion of regional tourism such as multimedia, websites, quality booklets, fair presentation, etc. should effectively reach the public outside the region integrating Altai Mountains in Kazakhstan among most interesting destinations in the world worth paying a visit.