Kazakhstan wants tourists to come play, not just work

NUR-SULTAN – Central Asian countries working together to promote regional tourism would help increase the number of travellers who visit Kazakhstan for pleasure rather than business, said Director of the Kazakhstan Tourist Association Rashida Shaikenova at an April 10 press conference.

Photo credit: tengrinews.kz.

Approximately 8.5 million people visited Kazakhstan last year, mainly for business, according to data from Kazakh Tourism. In 2017, the latest year for which statistics are available, only 1.2 percent of visitors listed tourism as the purpose of their visit.

The association believes that promoting eco- and ethno-tourism in cooperation with other Central Asian nations and developing more programmes that would offer cross-nation tours would help increase the number of pleasure travellers.

Flights to the region can be long and expensive so it would help entice pleasure travellers if they were able to visit multiple countries at once.

“We must meet these needs. The market is moving towards partnership with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and sometimes Turkmenistan. We have developed 28 cross-cutting tours in Central Asia, with the inclusion of elements of rural and eco-tourism,” Shaikenova said.

Shaikenova also said it is important to better train travel industry professionals to use digitised tools to provide tourist services. Poorly managed digitisation tools contribute to limiting the flow of pleasure travellers, she said.

“The tourist manager today is an orchestra-person, who needs to use several programmes. Such an employee must be technologically armed to the teeth… Also, he should not lose the ability to direct sales and work with the consumer,” she said.

Shaikenova also said Kazakhstan’s issuance of electronic visas could be improved to make the process easier for travellers. “The system of payment through banks was not brought to mind, and the system itself freezes, can’t be fully operational,” said Shaikenova.

The association recently proposed to the Kazakh Parliament measures it believes will help support the tourism industry and attract more visitors.