By Galia Nurzhan
ASTANA, November 12 – In mid-October, the sixth national tourism fair and exhibition was held in Kokshetau as part of the three-day national 2012 Sarkylmas Sayakhat (Kazakh for “unlimited travel”) campaign to boost the country’s tourism image in the international market.
This event is held annually in different regions of the country to raise awareness of the tourism industry, educate the public about its goals and standards and support tourism around the country. It also helps support the establishment of partnerships between local and foreign tour operators, as well as examine tourism plans for the country.
This year, the fair was organized by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and the local government of the Akmola region, famous for its Burabay resort area.
This year’s fair focused on domestic tourism and the need to promote it by creating a positive environment for establishing local businesses in the tourism sector and to encourage increased cooperation between domestic and foreign travel agencies.
International experts, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, managers of health and recuperation centres, and tourist agencies, and officials from national parks around the country attended the fair.
Participants discussed tourism development, the economic difficulties facing tour operators and launching new tourism projects financed through foreign investment. These included building three new five-star hotels for foreign visitors: the Kenderli in the Mangistau region, the Burabay in the Akmola region and the Zhana-Ile in the Almaty region.
Ferizat Saparieva, head of the Department of Tourism and Sports of the Pavlodar region, said the fair displayed the country’s tourism potential, represented tourism companies and also exhibited the contributions of universities and craft workers in expanding the capabilities of the industry.
Turkish tourism expert Nihal Enilmez Arpa lectured participants on the success of the tourism industry in his country, which attracts 40 million visitors every year who bring $20 billion into the national economy.
“In recent years, Turkey has been actively working to develop eco-tourism,” Arpa said. “Kazakhstan has great opportunities to develop all kinds of tourism. It is a country with a rich natural landscape. Therefore, it has a great chance to become a very popular tourist centre in the world.”
This year, the government has allocated 2 billion tenge for the development of tourism and it has chosen the four regions of Akmola, Almaty, Mangistau and East Kazakhstan as future major tourism centres. The next step will be the development of eco-tourism in other regions of the country. A new state plan is being drawn up to guide the growth of the tourism sector to 2020.
According to the country’s Agency on Statistics, in 2011, 5.6 million tourists visited Kazakhstan and 5.3 million people were domestic tourists. The entire tourism sector generated 74 billion tenge ($500 million) in revenue.