ALMATY – Kazakhstan’s13th International Tourism Fair (KITF) was held from April 24 to April 26 at the Atakent International Exhibition Centre in Almaty.The KITF is a major annual event in the national tourism industry. It showcases new developments and allows participants to share information and attract foreign companies to Almaty, which is the financial and commercial centre of Kazakhstan.
Experts believe it has great potential for eco and sports tourism, and the Almaty region, through the development of skiing tourism, is well positioned to become a global brand.
“Tourism is a key sector of the national economy. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has identified this sector as a priority programme for development,” Asset Issekeshev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies (MINT), told the opening ceremony.
“Tourism plays an important role in the resolution of social and economic problems in the regions,” Issekeshev said. “It creates tens of thousands of new jobs and develops the local infrastructure. Systematic plans for tourism development of the country, Almaty resorts and for the Akmola, Mangistau and East Kazakhstan regions have been worked out already in the industrialisation programme. Based on them, a draft of the long-term national tourism development plan has been drafted.”
“KITF provides an excellent opportunity for discussions with the world leading tourism industry experts to share experiences, discuss current issues, present new trends and identify effective ways to develop the sector,” he said.
Zoltan Somogyi, executive director of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), told the conference that tourism had become “one of the priorities of the global economy and it requires a complicated, high-yield inter-industry complex. It helps to provide high employment and social welfare. It improves the quality of life, sustainable development, economic unity and cultural diversity of states.”
“The impressive economic growth of Kazakhstan and the development of its national capacity over the past 20 years give us confidence that tourism too will develop for the benefit of the people of this country,” Somogyi said. “Kazakhstan is steadily moving towards the transformation of its unique natural and human resource capacity and improving its quality of service and international reputation. This is evidenced by the holding of this exhibition.”
“KITF has become a traditional and integral part of national tourism,” the UNWTO chief said.“Such exhibitions are attractive because of their special atmosphere of openness and free communication. This allows participants to demonstrate their achievements and offer products and to strengthen their mutually beneficial partnerships. Fruitful contacts within the framework of this important event make it possible to relate national priorities of tourism development to international trends and provide an opportunity to communicate with a mainstream audience, representing various sectors of the tourism industry and related economic sectors.”
Alexander Yakovlev, Russia’s trade representative in Kazakhstan, told the conference that it had become “the largest Kazakh exhibition in the field of international pleasure travel. Each year, the event is becoming more and more popular and important one for tourism professionals from Kazakhstan and foreign countries. This provides an excellent opportunity to offer the people in Kazakhstan in a professional manner all the latest achievements in the travel industry, new educational and recreational areas and routes all over the world, including Russia.”
“Such exhibitions help acquire new knowledge, learning and the adoption of best practices for sustainable tourism development. They also contribute to broadening cooperation and international contacts,” Yakovlev added.
The event was organized by the Committee of Tourism Industry of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies (MINT), the ITE Group Plc from Britain and Iteca from Kazakhstan. The ITE Group is the leading organiser of exhibitions in the Russian market and has 30 offices worldwide. It holds250 events per year in 15 countries. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the city government of Almaty supported the event.
The KITF has become the most important annual tourism event in Central Asia. This year, it welcomed more than 7,000 visitors. Trade professionals from around the world showcased the latest travel products and services, top resorts, hotels, flight options and exclusive travel offers.
More than 550 companies from 43 countries took part, a record number. Kazakhstan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, China and Malaysia provided the largest number of participating companies.
KITF combined B2B (Business-to-Business), B2C (Business-to-Consumer) and B2G (Business-to-Government) formats. It offered its participants the opportunity to expand business links, attract customers, make direct sales and bookings, acquire first-hand information and gain new clients. Prize draw promotions were held on the second day of the event.
Cuban companies participated in the fair for the first time this year. The number of tourists from Kazakhstan to that Caribbean nation is projected to grow by17 percent from 2011to 2016.
Independent tour operators, hotels, and service providers turned out in larger numbers this year, and leading tour operators Natalie Tours and Pelagos Tours and Travel participated for the first time presenting seminars on challenges facing the industry.
Medical and health tourism was well represented. Germany and South Korea promoted their clinics and hospitals Clinics, hospitals, recreational centres, resorts and hotels from Kazakhstan,Turkey, the Czech Republic and Thailand also participated. The Metropolitan Hospital, Rejwan Travel Service, Tairiku Travel, Tourasia, Tropical Collection, Your Travel London, Look Asia Holidays, Renti Tours and Reollo took part in the fair for the first time.
The show welcomed back previous exhibitors, including tourism boards from Dubai, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Morocco, India, Hungary, Catalonia (Spain), Georgia and the Dominican Republic.
The exhibition was held in pavilions 10 and 11 of the Atakent Exhibition Centre. Pavilion 10 was dedicated to national groups, ministries of tourism and tourist opportunities in Kazakhstan. Pavilion 11 included private companies: travel agencies, hotels and resorts from international countries and regions, and the medical and health tourism sector.
Destinations showcased included Dubai, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Morocco, India, Hungary, Georgia, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Britain, Russia, Maldives, Brazil, Slovenia, Japan, Italy, Seychelles, Greece, France, Mauritius, the United States and Catalonia (Spain).
A diverse business programme provided travel professionals with the latest information about industry developments.
The first two days of the exhibition were exclusively for industry professionals. The final day was open to the public.
“Each year KITF continues to attract new companies willing to promote in this lucrative market. For some destinations the growth of the Kazakh outbound market has exceeded Russian and thus KITF has become a permanent fixture on their calendar,” Maria Badakh, head of sales for the ITE Group, said.
Dorsai Khaghani, leisure director at the Sofitel Hotel in Dubai, said that participating in the fair was “a great opportunity to understand the market of Kazakhstan.”
“We have a lot of visitors from your country. We think that Kazakhstan is an important and growing luxury market and it will be good to have partners from this country,” he said. “Our hotel is located in Palm Island, the great destination of the United Arab Emirates.”
Shakira Adilbekova, deputy director of the Kazakhstan Tourism Association said the fair was an important platform for her organization to present its work. “Our association brings together the tourism market, and the hotel business of Kazakhstan. We work with airlines, the mass media and the higher educational institutions,” she said. “We are very pleased that the exhibition is growing year after year. More and more foreign partners are participating in it.”
“We meet here a growing number of interested persons. Foreign and domestic travel companies offer training experiences for our students. We also give consultations regarding legal issues,” Adilbekova said.
Alisher Doskanayev of MINT said his ministry was pleased by the success of the fair. “We received favourable impressions from the exhibition,” he said. “We are happy to see the increased number of countries represented this year. Even the ambassadors of many states are appearing at the stands of many of them. This fair is very helpful for our work in developing new technologies.”
Zhanna Mukhamedova, head of sales at the Avia Travel Agency, also known as Transavia, also found the fair a success. “Our company represents Ukraine International Airlines in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and we are happy to see the exhibition becoming more effective every year,” she said.