NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan has set the lowest ever threshold for tourism investors to be eligible for government subsidies and introduced the Kids Go Free program as part of the amendments to the law on tourism that came into effect on Jan. 1, reports the Kazakh Invest national company.
In accordance with these amendments, local tourism businesses have to invest at least 612.5 million tenge (US$1.4 million) in their project to be eligible for subsidies from the government and to sign an investment priority contract.
It is the lowest threshold when compared to other industries. Establishing manufacturing companies will require over 6.1 billion tenge (US$14 million), upgrading existing ones – over 15.3 billion tenge (US$35.4 million), and establishing food and light manufacturing companies – 3 billion tenge (US$7 million).
“The government will support entrepreneurs by allocating funds for the following expenses: tour operator’s costs for each foreign tourist, construction and reconstruction of tourist facilities, purchase of equipment and machinery for ski resorts, maintenance of sanitary and hygiene facilities, construction of roadside service facilities among other expenses,” said Alida Tuyebekova, head of service support at Kazakh Invest.
Depending on the type of activity, all investment projects with corresponding contracts are categorized into ordinary investment projects, investment priority projects, and special investment projects, with each of them implying particular preferences provided by the government.
Another amendment to the law on tourism is the Kids Go Free program that envisions free tickets for children aged 2 to 17 as part of a domestic tour package. The tickets are subsidized by the national Kazakh Tourism company with the intention of making family flights affordable and fostering domestic tourism development.
Starting Jan. 1, tour operators also began collecting bed tax from foreigners for each day they stay in tourist accommodation, with an exception for hostels, guesthouses, and rented housing.
These amendments come a few weeks after the government signed a decree on allocating 15,000 tenge (US$34,61) to local tour operators for each foreign tourist, who comes to the country using the services of local travel firms to offset the costs of these companies.