A new gondola lift is to be built in Almaty towards the famous Koktobe park by the French company POMA, with construction beginning this September. Up-to-date cabs for 10 seats will be delivered to Almaty by spring 2015. The memorandum between the French enterprise and Koktobe’s management was signed on May 28.
Koktobe’s lift was last renewed nine years ago. According to the resort’s management, the construction is old and needs to be renovated, although it still meets all technical requirements.
“Two cabs … [are] used to transport Koktobe guests at 15-minute intervals. This makes people wait a while to get into a cab. About 2,000 people are transported by the cabs every day during the open season. It is obvious that our lift cannot service such a great passenger flow. This was the reason to engage our French partners in a project to improve the lift infrastructure,” explained the director general of the Koktobe park, Nurlan Kaziyev.
The new lift will carry guests at a level of 80 metres above the city of Almaty to the park on the mountain top. The total length of the lift is 1,727 metres, with a travelling time of six minutes, and the difference between the bottom and the top of the lift of 250 metres. The top station is located at 1,100 metres above sea level and is considered the highest point of the city.
A return gondola lift ticket costs 2,000 tenge (US$11) now, and according to Kaziyev the price is not expected to change after the reconstruction.
“We are planning to enlarge the passenger flow, so that the payoff period will be five years,” Kaziyev said.
The zoo, children’s playground and restaurants within the resort complex will remain open for guests throughout the reconstruction period.
According to POMA’s executive director, Fabien Felli, the current project envisions 17 cabs. That number is planned to increase to 24 cabs in the future.
“For us, the lift is not just the transport infrastructure that links the park to the city. We want to present an innovative, high-tech ski lift. This is our pilot project in Kazakhstan, but we are planning to implement more projects in the future,” said Felli.
Consul General of France Patrick Renard said famous French actor Gerard Depardieu will probably be invited to participate in the opening ceremony for the new lift.
“Gerard Depardieu likes Kazakhstan and he visits Almaty from time to time. I think it is a good idea to invite him when the lift is ready,” said Renard. Renard also mentioned another symbol of France in Almaty – the small copy of the Eiffel Tower located on Furmanov Street. About 2,000 French tourists are said to visit Almaty every year. France’s consul general expressed his willingness to enlarge the tourist flow from France in the coming years.