In recent years, Karakol has been attracting visitors primarily as a gateway for the conduct of summer outdoor activities in its pristine natural surroundings. This came with shortages in available quality experiences for visitors, as the destination could not keep up with the demand. At the same time, there were few incentives for locals to enhance their skillset and use tourism’s year-round potential, as income-generating activities tended to be limited to the short summer months. The creation of the public union Destination Karakol in 2016 helped to unify local actors and together with international partners capacity-building opportunities were implemented. Today, this means that Karakol has professionals that can work as ever more skilled outdoor guides in the summer, but also possess the needed qualifications to work as winter sports instructors, or conduct, for example, cultural walking tours at any time of the year. Along with the comprehensive training structure that is locally adapted and yet adheres to international standards, available tourism products keep diversifying, and they show increasing awareness for social and environmental best practices: for example, less infrastructure-dependent activities like snowshoeing, or cultural dinners that allow visitors to experience Karakol’s multicultural heritage after a day of outdoor fun.
Keywords: winter sports, seasonality, outdoor activities, guiding, cooperation , transformation , sustainability