NATIONAL CORNERS

From the tops of the highest snow-covered peaks to the depths of the driest deserts, the word is out: Central Asia is a hot new travel destination and everybody’s talking about it. Featured by travel publisher Lonely Planet as the ‘Best Region to Travel in 2020‘, the Central Asian Silk Road was booming in popularity until global travel hit pause.

In recent years, the five Central Asian republics have given visitors plenty of new reasons to come: from the World Nomad Games in the Kyrgyz Republic and Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan to a bevy of sparkling new Caspian resorts in Turkmenistan’s Avaza district, and even newly-launched music festivals getting global attention: the Roof of the World music festival in Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains and the Stihia arts movement in the sands of Uzbekistan’s Aralkum desert.

Not only has travel in Central Asia grown more popular in the last few years, but considerably easier as well. The Central Asian states have begun eliminating visas for many nationalities, re-opening long disused border crossings, and expanding flight networks both domestically and internationally; all of which makes travel faster and more convenient for visitors – and allows them to maximize the time spent engaging with local cultures and exploring local landscapes.

USAID has been on the leading edge of promoting tourism across Central Asia – helping family-run guesthouses get access to online booking platforms and training cultural guides for certification by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations. Providing social media marketing support for tourism boards across the region and sponsoring publication of trekking routes that reach deep into remote mountains. Inviting international media and top-level travel bloggers to journey along the Silk Road and publish their experiences to a vast global audience. In Winter 2020/21, USAID partnered with online travel magazine WideOyster to feature Central Asia to a wide European audience, focusing on unique stories and compelling travel themes from each of the five countries.

Join USAID and WideOyster on a trip through the highlights of the region in the “Central Asia: The Last Frontier” special issue, which consists of descriptive storytelling from each of the five Central Asian states featuring unique aspects of each country’s travel sector through engaging written and visual content designed to invite viewers into an experiential narrative journey and encouraging them to explore each country further and plan their own travels. Incorporating video testimonials from stakeholders across the region, the content joins a professional writer and photographer’s perspective on Central Asia with the voices of local tourism service providers to present a united message of the highlights of travel in the region.

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