Foreign Tourism Partners Optimistic about Kazakh Tourism Market

ASTANA – Despite the unstable economic situation that resulted from the devaluation of the tenge, Kazakhstan’s tourism sector is supported by optimism and hope from foreign tourism partners offering alternative travel solutions. Representatives from India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shared their views during the 2015 Leisure International Tourism Exhibition, held Sept. 24-26 in the capital city’s Korme Exhibition Centre.

“The current economy is impacting the way people are trying to be very cautious now and looking a hotels’ price ranges. It is all about the price at the moment, but we are seeing a big increase from Kazakhstan’s market, particularly in our region,” Kempinski Hotel Sales Executive in Ajman, UAE, Yulduz Kengbayeva told The Astana Times. “We know there are going to be some changes; that is why we are working on special offers to make it easier for tourists from Kazakhstan.”

The UAE sees Kazakhstan as a promising and major market with good business potential among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), she added. The Emirates are among the most popular destinations for people in Kazakhstan looking to travel not only to Dubai, but other emirates as well.

“When tourists from Kazakhstan come to the UAE, our task is to make it as attractive as possible so that they can come and stay at a good hotel with a good price range,” said Kengbayeva.

India’s Minar Travels Deputy General Manager for Business Development Amitoj Singh believes devaluation will definitely affect inbound and outbound tourism and reduce sales. “Last year, we had a smaller number of bookings. The season is going to start about 40 days from now and we are quite hopeful that things will improve for Kazakhstan, not only for travelling to India but also other countries.”

“Right now, the situation is not very encouraging at all and as contributors to support our partners in Kazakhstan, we try to lower prices, give maximum ‘freebies,’ ‘early bird’ and special promotion offers from hotels and excursion agents to push partners and make it easier for them to buy the product. But we need to just wait and watch as of now,” he added.

“I see an interest in agencies. Last year, we saw growth in the market and hope it will continue this year, too. Although it is hard to predict what exactly will happen, I think we need to watch out this time. Tourism will depend on the economic situation,” said Tangerine Tours in Sri Lanka General Manager Charith De Alwis. “We are very interested in cooperating with Kazakhstan, will continue to work and support agents in hosting promotions and contributions and support this market, as we see Kazakhstan is a new market that has come to Sri Lanka.”

According to Yosi Aprizal, third secretary of the Indonesian Embassy and head of Indonesian social, cultural, protocol and consular affairs, the economic situation in Kazakhstan will not have a strong impact on its tourism and will soon adjust to a stable condition.

“We haven’t seen a significant impact so far and believe this will not last long, because Kazakhstan has a strong financial and economic system,” he said.

The interest of Kazakh people in coming to Indonesia is quite high, he added.

“Based on our visa issue records from 2012-2014 there was a huge increase, which shows that Indonesia is growing stronger as a destination. The flow of tourists from Kazakhstan to Indonesia is steady, mostly during the winter time and reaching its peak in December and January,” said Aprizal.

Indonesia’s tourism agencies see a huge potential for cooperation between the two countries and are optimistic about making contacts which will be enhanced in the future.

“Right now, we are not experiencing the best time when it comes to the CIS region. All markets are not doing as well as before, but we still believe the market of Kazakhstan is our potential market,” said Sun Hotels and Resorts sales manager for Russia and CIS countries in the Maldives Liza Unzhakova. “We can still try to bring more business from this country, because not everyone is aware yet of the Maldives as a destination. Most people here think it is too expensive and with the current crisis, unaffordable. But it’s not true, as most resorts are extending special offers for CIS markets. Let’s hope it will work.”

The Maldives has just started cooperating with Kazakhstan and she believes exhibitions are good steps towards future cooperation.

“We hope the business will get better and the people of Kazakhstan will be aware of the product, know our resorts and visit us. We are happy to host everyone, especially the CIS market,” said Unzhakova.