Tax-free shopping pilot project launches in Almaty

NUR-SULTAN – Global Blue, Europe’s tax-free shopping system for foreign tourists, officially launched Dec. 8 in Almaty.

Photo credit: holanews.ka.

Tax-free shopping is part of the state strategy to attract visitors by positioning the country as an ideal shopping destination in the Central Asian region.

Global Blue is a strategic technology and payment partner which empowers merchants to capture the growth of international customers using the system, and the government invited the company to make the nation’s largest city its starting point.

At the same time, the Ministry of Culture and Sport is developing an expanded offer for tourists covering all possible interests including ethno and eco-tourism, events and attractions and shopping facilities in close proximity to Almaty.

The flow of international visitors is steadily increasing, reaching approximately 6.5 million travellers annually. Authorities are hoping the number will exceed nine million by 2025.

The pilot project, supported by Kazakh Tourism, will operate in Esentai Mall, a luxury emporium.

“Tax free system implementation is a key to attracting international tourists and discovering Almaty and its shopping opportunities. We are sure the 40-year experience and innovations of Global Blue company will become a great support in enhancing our commercial proposals,” said Esentai Mall Marketing Director Olga Komissar.

Value-added tax (VAT) refunds on purchases made by foreign citizens will stimulate the influx of tourists, especially those from China and the Arab states, said Kazakh Tourism head Yerzhan Erkinbayev. The goal is to systematically introduce the project in the country’s other large cities under the state tourism development programme.

“Global Blue is glad to launch the tax free system in Kazakhstan. Esentai Mall is the most appropriate place to do it, we believe, and it will attract many more shopping tourists to the country. We are proud to work with the Kazakh government and Esentai Mall administration on developing this project,” said Global Blue PR and New Markets Development Chief Vice President Jorge Kassal.

He clarified the way the system will operate in Kazakhstan. Tourists with passports issued in countries beyond the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) who spend more than 50,500 tenge (US$130) on goods including garments, watches, jewellery and souvenirs have the right to ask for a VAT refund. Food and excise goods do not fall within the category.

A month after completing the special form, the individual has three months to submit it to the Almaty International Airport central customs zone and send it to Global Blue for a refund on a credit or debit card or electronic wallet.