Tourist Association – Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan Tourist Association
Kazakhstan’s position has significantly changed in the last 20 years and is becoming increasingly recognized and respected on the international scene. Ms. Roza Assabayeva founded the Tourism Association in 1999 and has been working hard to improve the tourism sector ever since. “Many people see Kazakhstan purely as an oil and gas country. We want to help them discover the rest” – explains Ms. Assanbayeva.
Tourism in Kazakhstan has been showing constant growth in terms of arrivals but is still on the way to make its significant input in country’s GDP. From January to December of 2013 there was a trend of increasing inflow of tourists. The number of tourists increased by 11.1 % and 6,841.1 thousand people compared to the same period in 2012. The current share of outbound tourism is much higher than the share of inbound and domestic tourism. From January to June 2014, there was an increase of inbound visitors and domestic tourism by 1.3% and 15.4% since 2013, which amounted to 217.9 thousand tourists and 1928.2 thousand people respectively. On the other hand, the number of outbound tourists, however, decreased by 2.5% since last year.
There have also been challenges hindering the growth of the tourism industry. The main problems are related to limited transport and insufficient development of road infrastructure (limited choice of airlines, inconvenient flight schedules, high ticket prices). This month, however, a new standard of road service was approved which regulates the development in accordance with international standards. “Ms. Assanbayeva mentions, “There is also, of course, the issue of obtaining visas which is often a complicated procedure for foreigners.” The association is consistently working to improve all of these issues.
One of the first objectives of the association was to get the visa requirements altered. There are now 10 added countries that can visit Kazakhstan for 15 days without a visa. “We want to extend the list of countries to 48 that can come here without a visa with no political danger”, explains Ms. Assabayeva.
The Tourism Association of Kazakhstan is always seeking further development. The adoption of the concept of development until 2020 that involves a cluster approach is just one example. According to the Global Competitiveness Index in the field of travel and tourism, Kazakhstan today is in the 88th place out of 140 countries. The implementation of measures outlined in this concept will solve the problems in regards to the visa regime and migration, the development of transport infrastructure and the creation of tourist infrastructure. As a result, Kazakhstan will be able to take 60th place in 2020 ranking. In regards to tourist services, Kazakhstan has also seen an increase of 28% per year. These favorable trends in the domestic economy, together with government support for the industry associated with the implementation of the cluster development, suggest that the upward trend in the number of tourists will continue.
Although traditionally the majority of tourists visiting the country have been associated with business, Kazakhstan now offers virtually all types of tourism services.. There has been high interest in mountain tourism and Steppe Safari, which involves travelling by Jeep on a national hunt. For this type of tourism, Kazakhstan has 20 landscape zones with saltwater and freshwater. Also of importance is Cultural Tourism, which is represented by the Kazakh national culture, customs, and mentality. This type of tourism has been particularly relevant in recent years as there has been an increasing interest from European and American visitors. “Some attractions include the culture of nomads, more than 9,000 monuments including the mausoleum Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, Aisha Bibi, Babaji-Khatun, Karahan, Dayutbeka, the underground mosque Becket-Ata, and many more”, explains Ms. Assanbayeva, president of the tourism association in Kazakhstan. Another particularly special attraction is the part of the Great Silk Road where foreign tourists can enjoy the ancient war atmosphere, pass routes of medieval warriors, see the ruins of ancient cities, tombs, and visit the Otrar baths. Here, you can also find a great number of monuments of the Stone Age, ancient sites, petroglyphs, and excavations.
In addition to all these, foreign tourists are also attracted by the environmental climate in Kazakhstan. Visitors often come to the country for skiing, extreme sports, and adventure tourism. Extreme travellers will also appreciate the rock climbing and sailing opportunities. Another promising direction seems to be beach tourism in the Caspian sea, Lake Alakol, Balkhash, and Bukhtarma Lake. Ms. Assanbayeva points out “We have a lot of unique places in the country. If you come to Almaty in the summer, for example, in just one day you can be in 40 degree weather in the city and then go enjoy skiing at Shymbulak.”
Kazakhstan has become increasingly popular among travellers from all over the world. Local companies have responded to this phenomenon by increasing the number and types of services they offer. “When people come to Kazakhstan, they will discover a certain charm and see that we are free spirited, happy people. We welcome tourists from all over the globe with arms wide open” Ms. Assanbayeva concludes.