BOOSTING KAZAKHSTAN’S TOURISM
Astana, August 2: In summer, thoughts turn to holidays. And recently the government of Kazakhstan has been turning its attention more and more to the possibilities of developing the country’s attractiveness as a destination for tourists. Kazakhstan is already attracting more and more foreign tourists and travelers to the country than ever before. Each year tourists and travelers come to Kazakhstan to visit the country’s wealth of natural landscapes and features. But what has been lacking previously has been the necessary infrastructure. That is now changing.
In late June, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov visited the Akmola region and during his time there, he held a meeting regarding the implementation of a plan for the development of the Schuchye-Burabai tourist area. This area of great natural beauty,with pine forests and crystal clear lakes, is seen by the government as a perfect region for eco-tourism. In the 2012-2013 period alone, KZT 18bn (around USD 118m) has been allocated to developing the infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvements include improving transport links to the area. Main roads into the area from Astana are being upgraded and internal flights from other parts of the country have started. Crucially for inhabitants of the capital, on July 5 a luxury train service was launched, running from Astana to the Burabai resort on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Other infrastructure improvements include building a recycling plant in the region, constructing water supplies as well as sewage treatment facilities.
At the other end of the country, a modern and eco-friendly resort has been developed near Almaty. The Eight Lakes Park Resort offers visitors the opportunity to fish, play tennis, take bicycle rides, enjoy the surrounding nature and relax at the largest beach club in Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Eight Lakes Park also offers a 450-hectare safari. The idea of creating the resort began in 2007.
When an artesian well was discovered in the area, what had once been a desert was turned into an oasis. Artificially-created ravines were filled with water from underground sources, producing eight lakes. A fishing club was born. Summer houses were built along the lakeside. The resort has developed rapidly from there.
One broader area which needs to be addressed if tourism is to continue to flourish in Kazakhstan is the cost of flights to the country and of hotels within the country, both of which are considered by many to be expensive. As noted, another is infrastructure, and the aim is to attract foreign investment to help develop this.
However, what Kazakhstan does possess is an abundance of tourist attractions: as well as Burabai and the Eight Lakes, there are the Tien Shan mountains; Alakol Lake; the Great Silk Road; the bright lights of the capital Astana, and the historical legacy of the Kazakh people, to name but a few. On March 21, the Minister of Industry and New Technologies, Asset Issekeshev, unveiled the 2020 Kazakhstan Tourism Industry Development Concept. Under this plan, the tourism sector will be developed on an all year-round basis. Over the next seven years, the aim is to create 550,000 new jobs in the tourism industry to serve the ever-increasing numbers of tourists coming to Kazakhstan each year.