About Destination Karakol
Discover the organization behind the information.
Karakol’s unique blend of history, cuisine, culture, and nature make the city a natural draw for travelers in Kyrgyzstan. With this in mind, the non-profit Karakol Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), founded in March 2016, began with a clear mission: create a strong, vibrant tourism industry that makes Karakol a better place to live for local people.
Comprised of more than 45 local stakeholders — including accommodation providers, restaurants, tour operators, local businesses, and local government authorities — the DMO focuses its efforts in several key areas: the improvement of guest service standards; coordination of tourism marketing and product development efforts; reinforcement of the city’s infrastructure; availability of high quality tourism information through its Visitor Center; and the establishment of partnerships with local, national, and international entities.
Destination Karakol is a registered non-profit organization. Some of the ways that it maintains financial sustainability and independence is by organizing and guiding local tours, earning commission from travel bookings, and selling postcards, maps, and other useful travel information at its Visitor Center. Anything you book through this website or buy through the Destination Karakol Visitor Center supports the DMO and its ongoing tourism and community development activities.
Opening celebration for the Karakol River Park
Local festival at the Karakol River Park
Operating as “Destination Karakol,” the DMO has enjoyed a number of remarkable successes. During its first year of operations, it created and launched a range of travel experience offerings which have shifted the city’s image with international tourists and press. Whereas travelers once viewed and interacted with Karakol only as a jumping-off-point for outdoor activities and treks in the Lake Issyk-Kul region, the newly available tours and services have successfully positioned Karakol as a multi-dimensional destination where culture, cuisine, history, and nature together find expression in each of the experiences available to visitors.
The DMO funded and developed the River Park Project, both as a suitable location for tourism festivals and local festivals, as well as an outdoor space to be enjoyed by the local community. DMO members also partnered with the local government to crowd-fund a much needed road repair. Finally, the organization has sponsored a new free WiFi initiative, which provides connectivity in main areas of the city to locals and visitors alike.
These infrastructure projects have simultaneously made the city a better place to live for local residents, just as it has broadened the city’s positive reputation among international travelers. Winning “Best Tourism Destination of 2017” at the Kyrgyz Tourism Awards was a culminating and rewarding acknowledgement of the DMO’s many achievements since its founding.
Destination Karakol is more than a collection of business, it's a group of people — professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, government employees, and citizens — who have banded together to create an organization committed to building a strong tourism industry in Karakol that benefits locals as much as tourists. Meet the team of people making this dream a reality.
Rakhat is Executive Director of the Karakol DMO. Born in Karakol, she sees great potential in her hometown. She is passionate about using tourism to sustainably develop local communities and businesses. With her history as a leader and facilitator in the tourism industry — she worked as a Manager at the Karakol Tourist Information Centre — Rakhat is a natural fit for her role overseeing and managing all DMO activities, while also ensuring the DMO fulfills it mission to advance and support the local community through tourism.
Previously, she worked as an International Relations Specialist in the Department of Science and International Relations at Issyk-Kul State University. She also has more than five years of experience working with the Peace Corps as an interpreter and trainer for local youth projects. When she's not at the DMO, you'll most likely find Rakhat strolling through Victory Park or trying a new shashlyk restaurant that's come to town.
Aman is a Karakol native who has been working in tourism since 2013. He first volunteered at the Tourist Information Center (TIC) and discovered a keen interest in the unique challenges and opportunities within the tourism industry. During his work at the TIC, he participated in many local and international projects that allowed him to develop a strong knowledge of web design and social media marketing.
After finishing his education in 2017, he began work with the Karakol DMO as a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist. He uses his unique skills and his extensive local knowledge to support the DMO's work and mission: to make Karakol better for locals and travelers alike. In addition, he guides several tours, such as the Walking Tour, Food Crawl, and Dungan Family Dinner. Being useful to others, making a difference, and ensuring travelers are happy are just a few of the many reasons he works at Karakol DMO. When he's not leading tours or running the website, Aman is mowing down on his favorite sandwich from Fat Cat Coffee.