World tourism ministers to meet in Kazakhstan in Oct 09


Islamic Travel Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil visited Kazakhstan in April as a guest of Air Astana, the national airline of Kazakhstan.

The UN World Tourism Organization is to hold its 18th General Assembly at the Convention Center in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 5 to 9 October 2009. The meetings of the other bodies, preparatory to that of the Assembly, will be held on 2 and 3 October 2009. Ministers and senior officials of national tourism organisations from 180 countries are expected to attend. According to Temirkhan Dosmukhanbetov, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, “this will be the largest tourism forum ever held in Kazakhstan and it is expected to contribute to tourism development and attract international tourists’ attention to the country. Our country has a vast tourism potential, but the infrastructure needs to be put in place. Notably, we feel lack of hotels in the capital. We have to take further efforts in this direction.”

According to a report submitted to the UNWTO, Kazakhstan plans to construct three large-scale tourism centers involving foreign investments – in Borovoye resort zone (vicinities of Astana), at the shores of Kapchagai Lake (Almaty) and at the shores of the Caspian Sea (Aktau). The project is to be completed within 5-7 years and the investments required are estimated at hundreds of millions of US Dollars.

With a unique history, ancient culture and multinational community, Kazakhstan is located in the center of Eurasia. Geographically, it is twice as large as all the four other Central Asian Republics combined. Tourism has been declared a national economic priority sector, especially in order to reduce dependence on income from oil and gas, and create jobs for the many young people now emerging from the universities in the post-Soviet era.

In June 2001 the Law on Tourist Activity was adopted, to define the legal, economic, social and organizational foundations of tourist activity as one of the branches of economy. After extensive research, a new strategy on the development of the national tourism industry was created. The national tourism development plan for 2007 – 2011 calls for the industry to provide new jobs, generate stable growth of state revenues and promote a positive image of Kazakhstan.

In attracting visitors, the country’s main focus of attention is the Central Asian region, the CIS countries and Europe and the traditional source markets of the industrialised countries. Asia generates only about 250,000 visitors a year for Kazakhstan. It has “simplified visa arrangements” with Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan. A tourism delegation will be visiting Malaysia from 7-9 May to discuss bilateral tourism promotion.

The tourism authorities are hoping to use the Silk Road as a launchpad for marketing efforts in Asia. They are also keen to get access to the tourism marketing and human resources training facilities from the Asian countries. Membership in organisations like the Pacific Asia Travel Association is being considered. The country is also preparing for the Asian Winter games to be held in 2011. The national airline Air Astana is also about to set up an inhouse tour company, Air Astana Holidays, to offer inbound packages.

Tourism data and facts:

International tourist arrivals (2007) – 5.3 million (+12.8% over 2006)

International tourist receipts (2007) – 53.8 billion tenge, (+59.3%) (exchange rate US$ 1 = 150 tenge)

Main generating markets – Turkey, USA, Germany, China, Russia, Poland, Great Britain and Korea, the press service of Kazakhstan Embassy in India reports.