ASTANA – Citizens of 80 foreign countries can stay in Kazakhstan without a visa, and nationals from 109 more countries have the opportunity to obtain an electronic visa. This was announced at an Oct. 31 meeting chaired by Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, reported the office’s press service.
According to the Minister of Tourism and Sports Yermek Marzhikpayev, over three million Kazakh citizens traveled within the country in the first half of the year, 400,000 more than last year.
According to forecasts, by the year’s end, the number of domestic tourists will reach nine million people. The first half of the year saw a twofold increase in foreign tourists, exceeding 500,000. The figure is expected to reach 1.4 million tourists by the end of the year.
In nine months, the tourism sector attracted 404.8 billion tenge (US$860 million) of investments, 44% more compared to the same period last year.
Smailov noted that the government should focus on developing the country’s tourism potential.
“We need breakthrough projects in the tourism sector. Over the past three years, investments worth $4 billion have been attracted to the industry. More than 400 facilities have been built, and nearly 7,000 permanent jobs have been created,” he said.
Smailov highlighted several factors hindering the effective development of the industry, including a lack of infrastructure, a limited number of accommodation locations, and a low level of logistics and quality of services provided.
“We need to be sensitive to complaints and recommendations from tourists. … The increasing flow of tourists requires effective infrastructure development. Akims [mayors and governors] should address these tasks,” he said.
Smailov also instructed relevant state agencies to approve roadmaps for developing the top 20 priority tourist territories and work out specific approaches to build agrotourism, ecotourism, and cultural tourism.
“All local historical monuments, picturesque natural landscapes, and other historical heritage need to be properly integrated into tourism products,” he said.
Smailov called for measures aimed at increasing the safety of tourists, ensuring an active information campaign about Kazakhstan’s tourism potential abroad, and approving an action plan to digitalize the tourism industry and improve the quality of services.
“It is important to simplify the stay of a foreign tourist in Kazakhstan and digitalize the entire range of services for domestic tourism,” he said.