ASTANA – As a lead-in to the July 31 vote in Kuala Lumpur, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, the Almaty 2022 bid organisers commented on the city’s readiness to welcome guests from around the world.
In recent years, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis has seen a rapid rise in its tourism sector with annual increases in hotel rooms of almost 11 percent, according to the bid committee press service.
“Tourist arrivals to Almaty have been steadily growing over the past years. Besides housing for the city’s growing population, the demand for hotels across all categories is rising. The Almaty 2022 games accommodation plan is in line with our long-term city development plan,” said Kazakhstan Tourism Association President Roza Assanbayeva.
The city attracts international visitors due to its close proximity to excellent ski and entertainment resorts, picturesque mountains and vibrant culture. In addition, Almaty continues to benefit from increased tourism through the hosting of major international winter sports events such as the 2011 Asian Winter Games, as well as a number of major international competitions in cross-country skiing and speed-skating.
Consistent with the growth in its tourism sector, Almaty has developed a robust accommodation plan to meet the needs of its many guests and fast-growing domestic population, according to the press release. The committee has worked closely with the city to ensure that Almaty’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics fits perfectly with the city’s continuing objectives.
Almaty faced a degree of criticism from the IOC evaluation commission at the beginning of the year, however, for alleged lack of appropriate accommodations for the thousands of visitors expected if it wins the bid.
According to the 2022 evaluation commission report, Almaty 2022 would need to construct more than 16,000 new two to five star rooms to meet the need for 24,200 rooms. The additional accommodations would include 3,000 hotel rooms, a 6,000-room media village, 2,000 rooms planned for the 2017 Winter Universiade, a 3,000-room temporary workforce village and 2,000 rooms in apartments.
Almaty has secured legally-binding guarantees from hotel owners, real estate developers and city authorities for an excess of 31,000 rooms, the bid committee confirmed.
The city’s real accommodation plan includes 10,580 rooms in dedicated villages for the Olympic family, 15,475 rooms in newly-built serviced apartments, including IF and NOC serviced apartments, and 5,175 rooms in existing hotels and wellness resorts in all categories, including the 1,000 rooms in the IOC hotels in the Olympic city, according to the press release.
“Almaty’s guarantees exceed all IOC requirements. All client groups will find comfortable accommodations in our city across all categories – from five-star hotels to university residences for low-budget visitors. All rooms are already built, under construction, planned or guaranteed by individual contracts,” said Almaty Akim (Mayor) Akhmetzhan Yessimov.
The three Olympic villages are well located in relation to the venues. Almaty offers an array of choices from the 25,000 options that are either existing or guaranteed by individual contracts, including rooms in current and planned hotels and resorts, nearly 7,500 guaranteed university residences for economy-minded guests and guaranteed apartment hotels that will be used for residential housing after the games, the bid committee noted.
“Our guarantees and strong track record of delivering major events is further proof that Almaty is ready to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. It also proves that our vision for a sensible, affordable and sustainable winter games is real. This is just another example of what we mean by ‘Keeping It Real’ and we are excited to share this vision with the Olympic movement and the world,” said Almaty 2022 bid committee Vice Chairman Andrey Kryukov.
Furthermore, the city will draw on Kazakhstan’s experience of hosting major events to ensure the successful delivery of its accommodation plan. In 2017, the nation will host a Future Energy-themed EXPO in Astana and the 28th Winter Universiade in Almaty. Beyond attracting visitors from around the world, these events will also ensure the adoption of the latest building techniques in Kazakhstan’s construction industry.
By holding these events, Kazakhstan is expected to attract more attention from tourists not only by exposing its picturesque landscapes, but also by offering a more-developed infrastructure and better choice of accommodations where the country’s guests can feel at home.