KHOROG, December 11, 2014, Asia-Plus -- Three regions of Tajikistan: Pamir Mountains, the Wakhan and Bartang valleys have been inscribed in the list of Global Top 100 (The Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100).  Thus, these regions are recognized among the best places to develop ecological tourism.

In the selection of the winners the following criteria have been taken into account: nature; environment; culture; traditions; and the strategy of eco-tourism.

Pamir Mountains, Wakhan and Bartang valleys in southeastern Tajikistan with their many unique natural, cultural, historical, archaeological and ethnographic sites, are distinguished by greatness of their wildlife and beautiful scenery (memorable valleys and gorges, mountains and high-mountain lakes), healthy environment (pure air and water), rich history and cultural heritage (including sacred sites, local original traditions) and, above all, unique hospitality of the population living here.

"The Pamir Mountains" – covering a total area of ​​over 2.5 million hectares and with unique flora and fauna, are located in the heart of the so-called Pamir Mountain Site, from which the highest mountain ranges of Eurasia diverge.  On June 27, 2013 UNESCO inscribed the Tajik National Park "Pamir Mountains" in the World Natural Heritage List.

Wakhan is a majestic valley with a centuries-old culture and impressive sceneries between the Shokhdara and Hindu Kush mountain ridges, which makes it the most mountainous region in Central Asia with the peaks of at over 7,000 meters, with numerous hot springs of natural mineral water. Here passed one of the branches of the ancient Silk Road and the shortest path for the Buddhist pilgrims from India to China. This region was once visited by Marco Polo. Wakhan is the birthplace of ancient inhabitants of the Pamirs, the oldest languages, the place of ancient fortresses and great walls.  Driving along Wakhan, you will notice quite a number of Buddhist and Zoroastrian monuments. Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam and other different cultures meet at this very juncture, a place where tolerance reigns.  Wakhan is also associated with the Large Pamir Highway (Osh-Khorog).

Bartang Valley stretches for 100 km and connects the Tanimas Valley with the Eastern Pamir.  In Bartang some original identity of the population has been well preserved: there one finds very attractive music, dialect, and way of life.  The most famous high-mountain lake Sarez is situated in this valley.

Competition to identify the rankings of tourist destinations has been conducted for the first time by Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100. This is a joint initiative of the three famous and powerful players in the field of eco-tourism in the world:  Travel Mole, Vision for Sustainable Tourism and Totem Tourism.  The main objective of the competition is to encourage public and private stakeholders around the world to participate more actively in the development of sustainable tourism, to take responsibility for green and socially responsible tourism.

This competition does not provide a ranking from 1 to 100th. It not only determines the best, but also assists good projects in the regions that are not yet known as tourist sites or destinations.  Announced rating helps to attract more foreign tourists to the region.  This rating is a signal that the tour operators of these places are on the right track.  These, as exemplary projects deserve support in the country, and they also can enter the international marketing.

The competition results will be exhibited at the ITF (International Tourism Fair) in Berlin in March 2015 and will be published in a special publication “100 Green Destinations.”

The development of these three tourism projects has been accomplished by Pamir Eco Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA).  This Association has been preparing documents and other information about these places to be included in the Top 100.

PECTA is a non-profit organization that has been operating since 2008 and is a member of the Coordinating Council for Tourism of the local authorities of GBAO.  It is the only tourist association in the region, which was established in April 2008 with the support from the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) - a project of the Aga Khan Foundation.  Its main goal is to create a modern and highly competitive tourism market in the Pamirs and attract more and more tourists to the region.