AKTOBE – The 11th International Travel Fair of Aktobe (ITFA) was held earlier this month, this time under the theme “Tourism. Sayakhat. Sports.” ITFA 2014 also showcased folk handicrafts.
The Aktobe region is a major cultural and industrial centre that also includes the Torgai national park, a refuge for many of Kazakhstan’s rarer animals. The region’s tourism potential was presented in 64 stands at the exhibition by tourist companies, representatives of local hotels and restaurants, transport and insurance companies, recreation centres, tourism and sports equipment sellers, universities and local history museums. The official opening ceremony was attended by First Deputy Akim (governor) of the region Nurmukhambet Abdibekov and Chairman of the Committee of Industry and Tourism under the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies Marat Igaliyev.
Aktobe’s crafts industry is one of the hallmarks of the region. At the ITFA folk crafts festival, craftsmen from across Kazakhstan offered handmade souvenirs of wood, ceramics, felt and other materials, as well as paintings and snapshots of country’s unique natural sites.
Craftsman from Aktobe Yerlan Baiganov, who makes traditional felt souvenirs – yurts, baskets, dolls and animal figures – is thinking of opening his own shop. His souvenirs sell well with tourists and the style of his work is related to the history of the Silk Road. Another craftsman, Tasbulat Sembayev from Turkestan, makes customised souvenirs of Kazakh elm.
Given the ongoing Silk Road revival and Silk Road integration processes, the development of tourism adjacent to the ancient route has gained new attention. “The exhibition is bigger than the previous ones, with about 100 exhibitors,” said Deputy Head of the Regional Department of Business and Industrial-Innovative Development Askar Kukeyev.
The new Western Europe-Western China international transit corridor runs through Aktobe, boosting the development of roadside services and small and medium enterprises in rural districts. Kukeyev says that construction of about 60 new infrastructure facilities is blueprinted, as well as tourist routes to historical sites and nature reserves. Press tours and trainings with tour operators are scheduled regularly, and the local budget has contributed sizeable funds to the development of the industry this year. This year’s tourism exhibition is a kind of accounting of what has been achieved in the industry so far and a road map for further steps.
Within the festival were organised a representative roundtable to talk over the outlook for tourism development and contests with prizes for best stand design, best handicraft and best presentation of local tourism products.