On June 27, 140 tourists from Tashkent to Tamchy, Uzbekistan, arrived at Issyk-Kul International Airport in the Kyrgyz Republic on the first charter flight to the region supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Inspiro Travel in the Kyrgyz Republic and the Uzbekistani tour operator Asia Lux are chartering these summer flights, which will bring roughly 3,000 tourists to the Issyk-Kul Oblast, where they can swim in the blue waters of Lake Issyk-Kul surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

The new route is part of USAID’s efforts to strengthen tourism and create jobs in Central Asia. Those efforts include both the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, and the USAID Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs Project in Central Asia Project, which operates in Uzbekistan. The latter is supporting the marketing of local tourism and training of Asia Lux tour agents.

On the Kyrgyz side, the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project is creating promotional materials for incoming tourists as well as journalists and travel agents from Uzbekistan to help them market and sell tour packages to Issyk-Kul upon returning home. The project is also providing 30 pieces of audio equipment for group excursions.

Kyrgyz Republic Enterprise Competitiveness Project flight 3

The first tourists to arrive at Issyk-Kul International Airport took part in a special ceremony that included Representative of the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sardor Saidirasulov, Director of the Department of Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic Maksat Damir uulu, Director of the Issyk-Kul Branch of the International Manas Airport Murat Apyshev, and USAID Mission Director Gary Linden.

Over the next three years, the route is expected to bring 8,000 tourists to the Kyrgyz Republic and increase revenue in Issyk-Kul by $1.4 million. Both Inspiro Travel and Asia Lux also expect a boost.

“In 2011, USAID helped us to launch the same charter flight from Kazakhstan, which is still operated by two Kazakhstani airlines during the summer season,” said Mirali Muhamedziev, director of Inspiro Travel. “That flight aroused huge interest among air companies and forced them to compete. It resulted in a ticket price drop and increased tourist flow that will go a long way in triggering sustained growth of the tourism sector.”

Kyrgyz Republic Enterprise Competitiveness Project flight 2

The tourism industry in the Kyrgyz Republic has high growth potential. That’s why, in the last five years, USAID has installed hundreds of road signs for tourists, improved hotel and tourism services, and made strides to bring more tourists to the country. All of this contributes to the country being one of Lonely Planet’s top five countries to visit in 2019. The new flight route is another step in bolstering tourism and new investment opportunities in Central Asia.

Learn more about the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project.

Learn more about our work in the Kyrgyz Republic.