Jezkiik 2019 Ulytau Festival celebrates Kazakh ethnocultural tourism

NUR-SULTAN – Jezkiik 2019 Ulytau Festival brought together the Ulytau International Tourism Forum, the International Rural Youth Forum and the Ethnic Music and Food Festival on Aug. 23-25.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Jezkiik 2019 Ulytau Festival. Photo credit: Akorda.

“Located at the intersection of ancient civilisations and the largest transport arteries, Kazakhstan for centuries remains one of the most important cultural, historical and spiritual centres of the Eurasian continent,” said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his speech at the Aug. 24 panel on the role of Kazakhstan’s historical and cultural legacy in tourism development at the Ultytau International Tourism Forum.

“Among the sacred places of our country, a special place is occupied by the lands of Ulytau. This is the sacred cradle of the Kazakh people, a symbol of the unity of the nation and a fierce struggle for independence. And today, one of the important tasks is to develop the tourism potential of this historic place,” he said .

Tokayev also announced the establishment of the Tourism University that will train personnel for the tourism industry as well as plans to develop a website containing information about domestic tourist attractions. The website will be developed by the Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry. Tokayev also emphasised the need to attract entrepreneurs to build vacation accommodations, provide catering options and establish recreation centres.

In the first part of the forum, researchers and industry experts discussed the role of Kazakhstan’s history and culture in its tourism industry. They discussed topics, including challenges facing Kazakh ethnocultural tourism development and the Ulytau region archaeological findings.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Photo credit: Akorda.

In the second part of the forum, panel members discussed experiences in ethnocultural tourism.

The Silk Road tourism development expert of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Alla Peressolova talked about global trends in the tourism industry and how the Central Asian region could seize them. She emphasised the emerging trends of sustainability and locals’ experiences, arguing that Central Asian countries have a great potential in incorporating these trends in their tourism agendas, calling the Silk Road “humanity’s most important road.”

Local experts, such as President of Avalon History and Geography Society Vitaly Shuptar, also shared their experiences launching Ulytau ethnocultural tourism products. They outlined challenges to Ulytau ethnocultural tourism development, such as a lack of transportation and housing options as well as a lack of interest from locals and a shortage of qualified tourism workers.

The panel of experts also emphasised the tourism potential of the forum in Ulytau. Particularly, Mongolia Sustainable Tourism Centre Board Chairman Gansukh Dambi praised the Jochi Khan Mausoleum that is located near the Ulytau mountains.

“We knew that the mausoleum was in this area, but we never saw it with our own eyes. This is a holy place, and I am sure that there is good energy for the future of all those who came here with good thoughts, good wishes. This is a historical path that unites all of us,” said Dambi.

As a result of the forum, 40 representatives of international tourism companies signed an agreement to launch tours to the Ulytau mountains from Germany, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (far right). Photo credit: Akorda.

The Jezkiik 2019 festival also hosted music and food festivals, as well as the International Rural Youth Forum. The music festival hosted the Morescanova band from Italy, the Carmen Guerreiro Flamenco band from Spain, the Serbian Abrasevic band and the Dunajbanda band from Hungary as well as Kazakh artists.

Jezkiik 2019 Ulytau Festival. Photo credit: Akorda.

“I first heard about this festival from Mexican musicians. They spoke of it very well. In addition, this festival is young, and we wanted to take part in it, to discover something new for ourselves. Our group has been touring since 1991, we have been to many countries, but we came to Kazakhstan for the first time. This is a very interesting experience for us,” Maria Guerreiro Guitterez from the Carmen Guerrero Flamenco band told KazInform.

Jezkiik 2019 Ulytau Festival. Photo credit: Akorda.

The national food festival featured 45 yurt houses offering Kazakh national food.

“I really enjoyed the beshbarmak (national meal) and the horse riders show (Nomad Stunts show),” said one of the festival visitors. “It was nice to have this festival in our region.”