Interviews with winners of To Do 2014 Awards

Eurasia News

Interviews with winners of To Do 2014 Awards

 To Do 2014 Tourism Awards

By Agha Iqrar Haroon

The responsible tourism organizations from Costa Rica, India and Uzbekistan have won To DO 2014 Award for practicing responsible tourism in the sphere of their working.

The Costa Rican Association of Rural Community Tourism (ACTUAR), Reality Tours & Travel India and Silk Road Destinations Samarkand Uzbekistan won award for their responsible tourism projects.

20th Award Ceremony of the International Contest Socially Responsible Tourism will be held on March 4, 2015 at ITB Berlin. The laudatory speech in honour of the award winners will be held by Mr. Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Press conference with the award winners: ITB Berlin, 4th March, 11.00 am, hall 4.1, YIG-Lounge, booth 102

For more information, website of contest can be visited to following link

The Eurasian News contacted all the three organizations for interviews of their contact persons to share knowledge how these tourism organizations successfully followed the concept of responsible tourism while supporting their communities. Answers were received from Costa Rica and Uzbekistan while Indian organization did not send answers despite the extension in deadline for answering questions sent by email.

Since To Do 2014 Award are granted equally therefore we are placing answers in alphabetical order.


The Costa Rican Association of Rural Community Tourism (ACTUAR) 


Q: Tell us brief the history of your project. When and why it was founded?

Answer: The Costa Rican Association of Rural Community Tourism (ACTUAR), emerged after 2001, during the 1st Meeting of Ecotourism, hosted by the Small Grants Programme (SGP) of the United Nations, who have supported more than 50 rural tourism initiatives Community, as a means to promote sustainable development.

That 1st Encounter a landmark in the history of groups who had experiences of rural tourism, because for the first time managed to team up with an activity and a common goal, serving as a platform for sharing problems, needs, challenges and triumphs, as before practices were only as each group. Therefore it was decided to form a partnership and the Costa Rican Association of Rural Community Tourism (ACTUAR) came into being.

Since it was very difficult to gather all thirty, therefore organizations agreed to appoint representatives for each area or geographical region, to create the National Commission.

The committee held meetings on a quarterly basis, analyzing what the vision together to ACTUAR would. From this the first drivers organizational values were established and began to talk to ACTUAR in different political, institutional and tourism circles that member organizations were linked.

In late 2001, ACTUAR considered elemental work on a strategic plan of the organization, which would be clearer mission and vision. Strategic planning workshop was organized, with the following results:

The purpose of ACTUAR is to promote environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability initiatives Rural Community Tourism in Costa Rica, through the establishment of strategic partnerships for community tourism marketing, strengthening the capacity of partners and management resource.

In late 2002, ACTUAR held its General Assembly to elect a Board of Directors and defines as a priority; to formalize the organization is elemental to meet projected needs and goals in the strategic plan. This is how the September 24, 2003 was carried out formalize ACTUAR and was established in association under the Associations Law 218.

As of November 23, 2003, ACTUAR installs its offices and the Board and other members of the Executive Management ACTUAR selected to streamline the process of ACTUAR and pursuing goals that has been raised for the future.

Q: What is the concept of your tourism project and what are you offering?

Activities – services and products – developed by ACTUAR can be grouped into two components (PIUs): Distributor ACT and ACT Developer.

ACTUAR has 2 Trading Business lines:

ACTUAR Rural Adventure – Tour Operator in charge of all activities related to the promotion of tourism products and services of its members, both nationally, and internationally

Kitchen REGIONS Café Tienda—It is promoting sustainable products, food and crafts of rural communities. Furthermore, ACTUAR Developer is responsible for the services and actions related to the development of partner of the partnership, as well as advocacy, through strategic alliances, in order to promote rural tourism in Costa Rica.

Work, services and products that are essentially develops ACTUAR: organizing tourism service providers through training and technical assistance, creating a common image and the development of the quality of tourism services and products with a “seal ACTUAR “; market package tours abroad and within the scope of the domestic market; facilitate access to credit for package development through solidarity funds; and advocacy.

Q: What tools you are using for marketing the services?

ACTUAR TOUR OPERATOR is promoted through the following means:

-page Web: and social reed

National and international -Trade. We have over 5 years of attending the biggest show in tourism -Europe – ITB – Berlin. We also participate in other fairs every year as the Top Resa in France.

-We have a database of over 5,000 direct customers to whom we deliver

-We have a database of European and American wholesalers who we follow.

-We have a database of more than 200 tour operators nationwide with us and those who promote them perform sales presentations and familiarization visits.


-regions Is also an opportunity to promote tour operator ACTUAR


REGIONS promoted through the following means:

-Rótulos In places near the restaurant

-page ACTUAR website


-Clients and tour operators ACTUAR

-Companies Near the restaurant

-Media Press

-Pages Yellow and Green Pages

-San Jose Flying

-Volanteo In businesses and homes near ACTUAR

-Sending Emails

– “Mailings” to NGOs, international organizations and related institutions.

We also participate in national and international tourism fairs like FITUR, ITB Berlin Germany, TOP RESA France, WTM England Fair on Gustito Costarricense, Rural Community Tourism Fair, Fair Central CATM, Expotour. We provide promotional material in multi-languages including French, German, English and Spanish.

Q: Do you have some partnerships with tour operators or travel agencies to market project and sell services?

We have partnership with 43 organizations around the world that are our customers including:

Amadeus Travel, Amazilia Travel, Cactus Tours, Caminando Costa Rica, CAST, Club Aventure, Costa Rica Reps, Costa Rican Trails, Costa Rica Natural Travel, Ecole Travel, HAS-CR, Internatura, Conservacations, Le Route de Voyages, Terra Caribea, Terra Venturas, Tierra Verde, Travel Excellence, Vesa Tours Aventuras Bravas, Exploradores Outdoors, Green Stone Adventures, Maravillas Tropicales, Terra Nova, Tierra Verde, Wildbird Tours, Diamir Travel, CATIE, Trekking Welten, The Beyond Tourism Company, Miller Reisen, A&E Erlebnis Reisen, Napur Tours, Prodintur – Francia, Anapia, Caminando Costa Rica, INCAE, Discovery Travel, Coast to Coast, CONARE, PNUD, Universidad para la Paz and Clientes directos.

Q: How many guests/visitors/travelers visit and stay at your project site in one year?

We have 3500 to 4000 tourists every year.

Contact Person:

Cinthya Quirós C.

Dirección Ejecutiva

Administración y Finanzas

Tel:   (506)2290-7514 EXT 107

Fax:  (506)2290-7514+1

Emergencies: (506)8360-7475



Silk Road Destinations Samarkand Uzbekistan


Q: Tell us brief the history of your project. When and why it was founded?

The project Mitan Responsible Tourism Project was conceived by my company Silk Road Destinations (SRD) in year 2008 when Mitan village received its first group of European visitors and response of visitors was overwhelming to see a remote traditional village of Uzbek culture while economic benefit encouraged Community to suggest SRD to plan a proper project that could equally benefit for local people for a long term basis. This was the beginning of the project and the local chief of Community (Turakolov Bokhtirodin) and I (Turakolov Ravshan) held meetings with villagers to get their approval and to device a system that could help all members of Community regularly and equally.  Participatory approach was adopted to encourage and ensure 100% partaking of community.

Q: What is the concept of your tourism project and what are you offering?

The Concept of “Mitan Responsible Tourism Project” is multi-dimensional Community Based Tourism project for providing direct economic benefit to the region from where tourism money is being generated, promoting interfaith harmony and redeveloping apiculture in the region, providing practical training to youth of this area for tourism operations so they can earn their livelihood in tourism sector that is one of the fastest growing sector in Central Asia particularly in Uzbekistan.

This project organises exchange between tourists and locals and this exchange includes some educational points for both parties. Children of Mitan village understand that foreigners are not some unknown aliens and a traveller is also like them with a different language, colour, character and culture. Therefore youngsters have chances to compare their own life with something different and these boys and girls will become more sociable, more skilful and ready for a life marked by globalisation and consumption.

People of this area mostly work in agriculture. They produce silkworm, cotton, rice, wheat and other agricultural products. Today families in Mitan village are offering Tourism services along with their main activities of yield production therefore this project provides a supplementary income for local people. Income to the community comes from services it offers like providing accommodation and meals to visitors. Mitan Village is a new destination and it is an original and comfortable way for western tourists to see the real life of Uzbek villages.

Apiculture was a part of social and economic life of people of Mitan in past but this activity lost its importance therefore beekeeping is encouraged through this project. Honey is a good product to sell to tourists and to offer them during the meals. Tourists usually buy honey as a gift for their relatives. So this direct purchase of honey also encourages local people and serves to develop apiculture in Mitan. SRD provides full information and material for this type of production and organises trainings for them to explain them the technology of honey production. SRD is also working on horticulture and livestock development and places these two important products in next phase of project development. Right now, visitor stays with local family in dormitory (4 to 8 people per room) and sleeps on the floor as people mostly do in Uzbekistan.

Community offers one time meal (Lunch) during Day Tour while it offers two time meals for Night Stay visitors.

Visitor is offered meetings and discussions with the villagers (through translators in some cases). Visitor can go and work with farmers in field, play with children and has many activities of the villagers (milking cows, preparing traditional cakes, embroidery, plowing, harvesting, etc.);

Project promotes interfaith harmony as traditional Muslim families offer their homes to people of all religions and live and eat with them. This component of project provides opportunity to youth of this area to harmonise to people of other faiths, colour and backgrounds.

To organise exchange between tourists and locals and this exchange includes some educational points for both parties, teaching each other. For example, for children in Mitan, foreigners are not some unknown alien and children understand that traveller is also human with a different language, character and culture. Youngsters have a chance to compare their own life with something difference and these boys and girls will become more sociable, more skilful and ready for a life marked by globalisation and consumption.

Q: What tools you are using for marketing the services?

Mitan Responsible Tourism Project is marketed by Silk Road Destinations (SRD) through its own networking of tour operators and travel agencies. We showcase Mitan project in itineraries provided to a networking of European tour operators and travel agents.  SRD regularly attends international and national tourism fairs


Q: How many guests/visitors/travelers visit and stay at your project site in one year?

We have around 800 visitors (day visit)

Q: Do you have involvement of international institutes in marketing or promotion of your project? If yes, please name them.

The project is run, managed, promoted and marketed by SRD and Mitan Community.


Q: Are there links/networks with similar projects or institutions in other regions or countries you are attached with?


Contact Person:

Ravshan Turakolov