Kazakhstan has huge tourism potential, says UNWTO Secretary General

ASTANA – World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said during the June 26-27 “Tourism and Future Energy: Unlocking low-carbon growth opportunities” conference in Astana that Kazakhstan has great tourism potential and needs to be branded globally.

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According to him, Kazakhstan is full of mysteries and discoveries, as well as landscapes, history of traditions and culture, which makes it unique. Also, the potential of Kazakhstan as a tourist destination is huge, since it is a young country with one of the youngest capitals in the world, he added. It is vital for Kazakhstan to use its potential, and travel must be used for political and economic interest.

“One of the fastest-growing economic sectors nowadays, tourism represents 10 percent of the world’s GDP, 7 percent of global exports and one in every 10 jobs. But with growth comes responsibility as we work towards building a better future for the people and planet of prosperity and peace,” said Rifai at the conference.

“Tourism is estimated to account for 5 percent of global atmospheric CO2 emissions. We need to move towards a truly green tourism economy where growth is decoupled from environmental or cultural degradation,” he added.

Participants of the conference discussed the contribution of the tourism sector to reducing carbon emissions. The event was a joint initiative of Astana EXPO 2017 and the UNWTO with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan.

Discussions were focused on how to implement mitigation and adaptation measures in transport, accommodation and destinations in the scope of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action).

“Tourism is a priority for Kazakhstan. Tourism is a driver of socio-economic development and we plan to increase the share of GDP from one percent to eight percent by 2025,” said First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, who requested UNWTO’s support to construct a sustainable tourism sector.

At the conference, EXPO 2017 Board Chair Akhmetzhan Yessimov said that the expo is a unique opportunity to introduce Kazakhstan to the world and provide an impetus for comprehensive development of tourism.