The Network seeks to promote tourism in areas where natural beauty is one of the few assets at the disposal of a community. It seeks to develop these activities in culturally and environmentally sensitive ways that improve the quality of life for people in the vicinity of these projects, whether in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Valley or Tanzania’s natural reserves.
In most cases, these projects are conceived as engines of development, whether it is a small guesthouse in Tajikistan, a tourist itinerary in Cairo, or the reconstruction of a hotel in Kabul. The projects are meant to promote entrepreneurial spirit, draw investment into an area, or provide the amenities required by international investors.More
Each project is a node for development, either directly or indirectly. Tourist promotion efforts have included the restoration of numerous forts, mosques and homes in remote parts of Pakistan. They include the creation of parks and gardens in Cairo and Zanzibar. They also include a ski competition in Bamyan, Afghanistan, which drew a number of domestic and international competitors, and guesthouses in the transitioning economies of Central Asia. In all AKDN projects, emphasis is placed on the active engagement and input of the local community.
Serena Hotels, which is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, builds hotels in underserved areas, such as the Kabul Serena, often at the request of central governments. But because of the AKDN ethos that underpins the activities of the hotels, they not only work to provide an economic stimulus in the normal course of business operation – through employment, training and local sourcing, for example – but they also support measures that improve the quality of life in neighbouring areas. These measures include water and sanitation programmes, health initiatives, school renovation projects, tree-planting programmes, indigenous plant re-stocking projects, butterfly breeding and turtle-protection projects.
Each Serena property is designed to celebrate and reflect its area’s artistic idioms and cultural expressions. Environmental sensitivity and sustainability are hallmarks of the hotels, which have won a number of environmental awards. Serena operates 35 hotels, resorts, safari lodges and camps, palaces and forts located in East Africa, Mozambique and Southern Asia.>