About Raisa Gareeva


When Perestroika was advocated by President Gorbachav and when finally the Soviet Union collapsed, most Soviets found themselves unprepared to find new employment, start businesses or support themselves.  Everything changed and few knew what to do.
Raisa Gareeva, your tour operator for the Central Asia trip found herself in the same situation.  Born and raised in Uzbekistan, after graduating college and teaching English at a university for several years, she worked close over 15 years as a guide and translator with Intourist (the Soviet-run tourist agency). Raisa eventually became the director of her department.  She was in charge of 50 employees whose tasks included hotel bookings, rental cars, restaurants, airline tickets and guides.  Dramatically in contract to how she handles designing itineraries today, she says of the way she had to work with Intourist  “Our function was to receive tourists from Moscow that were visiting us on Soviet approved itineraries.  We could not allow any flexibility of any kind nor were we allowed to alter the programs.  Visits to private homes or interaction with the local people were not permitted by foreigners”.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, Intourist no longer existed.  Her job disappeared.  She and her colleagues were out of work yet fully unprepared to market tourism and encourage visitors to their region, tasks that had always been handled by Moscow.
“Every time we called Moscow to ask how they promoted our region to tourists, they said they could no longer help us – we would have to figure it out for ourselves”.  During this period it was easy for Raisa to realize that not only did she need additional training and a job, but so many of those around her did too.  As a first step, she decided there was a need to organize free English language courses for the citizens of her city, Bukhara, to enable them to operate in a free market economy.  Initially, she invited and hosted a British English teacher to come to Bukhara and instruct.  The courses became so popular that, with the help form a grant administrated from the Eurasia Fund, she was able to hire more teachers, organizing a free three-month course in Computers and Management too.
With many of her friends and acquaintances from Intourist out of work too, they pleaded for Raisa to start her own private agency.  As a result, in 1994, she was able to secure a Mercy Corps grant and struck out on her own, forming an inbound tour agency called Salom Travel.  Her agency now has 7 full-times employees, plus many part-time employees, such as guides and drivers, who are used on an as-needed basis.  Starting her own business was a bold step indeed, and over the years she had been successfully able to handle groups from the US and Europe, as well as providing services to independent travelers in Central Asia.  “I had no idea about what it would take to start a travel agency or get a license to do business, but I knew I had to do something”.
Raisa graduated from what is now Bukhara University in 1972 with a Masters in Russian and English languages.  She also speaks Uzbek, Tajik and two other Central Asian languages.  She has traveled extensively including many long trips to the United States.
In additional to running her own Central Asian travel company, Raisa also is the owner/founder of the Salom Inn a Bed and Breakfast in a quaint and historic quarter of Bukhara.  She is currently involved in many other projects such as serving as the Local Program Director for Aid to Artisans, Inc.  In this capacity, she is the coordinator of seminars for local artisans, translator for guest speakers, liaison for the artist and the business sector, and facilitator for artisan’s participation in exhibitions.  Additionally, she is General Director of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Private Travel Agency and Small Business Association where she acts as advisor and liaison between the members and its executive board.  In 1997 she was invited by the US State Department to escort then first lady Hillary Clinton around Uzbekistan.
Raisa is very interested in and supportive of local artisans who since the fall of the Soviet Union, now are able to direct their own professions in life.  She brings necessary commercial attention to artisans who are finally able to pursue their ancient familial crafts again or who are starting up new enterprises based on their personal interests.  She has also provided seed funds (micro loans or grants) to many women so that they could begin their own enterprises.  During your visit to Central Asia with Raisa and Christine you will have opportunities to visit several of these endeavors and see their gorgeous and creative products.
Email: barakajourneys@sbcglobal.net  Telephone: (626) 570-1700   Contact: Christine Robison
mailto:barakajourneys@sbcglobal.netshapeimage_2_link_0

About Raisa Gareeva