EXPO 2017 is an opportunity to show the world new Kazakhstan, UNWTO executive director


EXPO 2017 is an opportunity to show the world new Kazakhstan, UNWTO executive director“The world community will pay attention not only to the level of organization of EXPO 2017 but also to the changes taken place in Kazakhstan for the past years,” UNWTO executive director Zoltan Somogyi told in an interview with Kazinform Agency.

– What could you say about the development of relations between the UNWTO and Kazakhstan? What is the most promising trend of Kazakhstan’s tourist industry?

– Kazakhstan is keen to develop a new tourist direction along the Great Silk Road. As an active member of the UNWTO Silk Road Program, Kazakhstan held many key events that contributed to promotion of the Silk Road tourism. A 5,000 km long Chang’an – Tien Shan corridor running via Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List in June this year. We hope that other corridors of the Silk Road will also be included into this List to bring to light the unique tourism potential and ensure protection of the World Heritage sites and objects

The UNWTO and UNESCO work jointly to draw a roadmap to develop the Heritage Corridors. Our experts visited lots of cultural heritage sites of Kazakhstan last month in an effort to study and determine the real needs to support development of communities.

I would like to note that we are glad to witness important political achievements in the sphere of tourism, for example, Kazakhstan’s adherence to easing visa requirements that of great concern for promotion of tourism along the Silk Road.

– What opportunities do great events such as EXPO bring to Kazakhstan?

– First of all, EXPO is an opportunity to show the world the new face of Kazakhstan. The point at issue is not just holding of the event but also the development of the country since gaining its independence and further development in the next 20 years to come. EXPO will show the country’s development and its latest achievements.

– How could Astana and Almaty use then all the infrastructures that will be built for EXPO 2017 and sports facilities for Olympic Games? What advantages will those significant events bring to the development of cities and the country at large?

– The crucial point is that it is necessary to precisely plan the infrastructure use in the future. Realization of the global heritage strategy is of fundamental importance. It means integration of plans how to host a certain event into the long-term development plan of a city, a region and a country. And it is from the point of view of tourism. Such grandiose events will bring lots of advantages, as well as urban renewal, creation of new workplaces, increase in tourist flows and foreign investments. But for tangible benefits, holding of large sporting events such as the Olympic Games will help raise the national spirit and the country’s pride and enhance the country’s standing in the international arena as a tourist destination. The London Summit will focus this year on further use of sports facilities built for the grandiose events for the development of tourism. We debated these issues in Sochi and will also address them in London. Organization of events is not just an opportunity to attract tourists but also commitments to build a new infrastructure. Certainly, holding of such events comes with a price.

– Could you tell us about Spanish tourism practice?

– Spain has strengthened its positions recently developing new and solid tourist products, for example, urban tourism, gastronomy, cultural and business tourisms, and I am confident it will keep on its lead in this sphere. Drastic changes taken place for the past ten years enhanced the Spanish tourism image turning into extensive travels to get acquainted with multifaceted ancient and modern country and its rich culture.

Today’s Spain is one of the most important tourist destinations. Last year it was the third most visited country in the world that welcomed more than 61 mln of tourists. It also ranks third in revenues generated by international tourism. It brought the country USD 60 mn that makes tourism a key investor into the Spain’s external accounts, its economic growth and employment.

– What contributes to the development of tourism?

– Tourist industry has grown for the past decades to become one of the key socioeconomic sectors providing thus 9% of GDP, every 11th workplace and 6% of the world export.

One billion tourists traveled globally for first time in 2012 that is much more against 25 mln traveled back to 1950. Last year the number of tourists hit 1 bln 84 mln. The global traveler community is also expected to grow in 2014. According to the UNWTO, the international tourist arrivals are forecasted to reach 1,8 bln by 2030.

– What is the UNWTO role in the development of global tourism?

– The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.

The UNWTO “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities” campaign calls to respect local culture, buy local products, protect heritage, save energy and use urban transport. Contribution of each tourist may cause real changes. Just imagine that we can contribute to preserving cultural heritage if tickets bought by one billion tourists would be used for maintaining and protection of the places they visited…