College of International Studies, School of Social and International Studies, University of Tsukuba
Kyrgyz has a lot of charm, including the idyllic landscape of livestock grazing on endless grasslands, Lake Issyk Kul surrounded by mountain ranges and ancient remains, and Bishkek, the capital city, where the structures of the former Soviet Union remain. In such a small country in the mountains, I was able to feel the strong potential of tourism in this country by two weeks of training trip. The reason for this is that it is a pro-Japan country and has abundant tourism resources such as Lake Issyk Kul, and specificity that can touch the culture of the Russian-speaking world while touching the culture of nomads.
During the training, I was able to learn not only the international situation and development surrounding Kyrgyz, but also the current status and problems of tourism development, through visits to JICA’s projects and the United Nations offices, fieldwork in Bishkek city, and trips to the Issyk Kul region. Both soft and hard initiatives are required to tackle the problem of local tourism development.
First of all, one problem on the soft side is that English is hardly understood. Before traveling, I vaguely thought that “English can be used in any country” in the modern world. However, in Kyrgyz, even simple English is not understood, and Russian or Kyrgyz was needed in all communication. In order to attract visitors from outside the Russian-speaking world, I felt it was essential to develop human resources such as interpreters.
And, the problem of the hard side is the means of transportation. Most of the international flights destination cities from Manas International Airport are in the Russian Federation, with almost no direct flights to Japan or other Asian countries. On the other hand, in the city of Bishkek, car delivery services using smartphone apps such as YandexTaxi and NambaTaxi are developed, and it is easy for foreigners to move around the city. However, once you leave Bishkek, you will be forced to use Marshrutka (routed bus) and private taxis, and it is difficult for individuals with language difficulties to move around, and further dissemination and improvement of transportation infrastructure is desired. A great deal of effort is required to solve these problems. However, I am confident that tourism is highly likely to become a major industry if the country of Kyrgyz becomes more recognized among the Japanese. I was fascinated by the charms of Kyrgyz and Central Eurasia during this training, and I will take part in a Russian language training in Kazakhstan in the next early spring. By learning more about this region and deepening our understanding, I would like to continue to study with the aim of becoming a person who can give back something to this region and Japan.