Kazakhstan’s tourism industry is recovering, new opportunities are opening up

NUR-SULTAN – Tourism around the world continues to recover at a rapid pace. In general, in the first quarter of 2022, there were almost three times more foreign tourists than in the same period in 2021. Kazakhstan is no exception and is ready to receive foreign and local tourists. The Astana Times spoke with Talgat Amanbaev, chairman of Kazakh Tourism, a national company dedicated to promoting and improving tourism potential, about how the pandemic has opened up new opportunities and what the future holds for the Kazakh tourism industry.

Talgat Amanbaev has been heading the company since December 2019. Photo: Kazakh Tourism.

In the first four months of this year alone, 75.6 billion tenge ($173.7 million) was attracted to the industry, while the target for 2022 is 1 trillion tenge ($2.3 billion).

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a major stress test for tourism. How has this affected the country’s tourism industry?

That’s a very difficult question. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been trying to predict what the effect will be. In the first year, which was hit the hardest, the country lost 70 percent of its incoming traffic and 40 percent of its domestic traffic. And according to various estimates, the calculated loss amounted to about 300 billion tenge (685.9 million US dollars). At the same time, for example, last year a record figure for domestic tourism was recorded – 6.5 million, almost 7 million – traveled around the country. This is a record high. Thanks to this, the tourism business began to recover. What I would like to point out about tourism is that this is the area of ​​the economy that has suffered the most, but also one of the fastest recovering. For example, hotels and accommodation facilities earned 109 billion tenge ($249.2 million) last year, which is very close to the pre-pandemic period. So he’s recovering very quickly, and like I said, travel is a lot safer now – less hassle and less paperwork.

You said that the tourism industry is recovering. When do you estimate it will recover to pre-pandemic levels?

Domestic tourism has already reached pre-pandemic levels, but has also broken the highest record. Domestic tourist flows have always been in high demand, especially in summer. In Kazakhstan, there are several resort areas that receive a large number of tourists, with a maximum in the summer. Lakes Burabai and Alakol, the Caspian Sea, Bayanauyl, Kapshagay, Bukhtarma and, in recent years, Imantau Shalkar. All of them have great potential and can often be found on travel wish lists in the summer. The pandemic has spurred the development of ecotourism. Although it has grown annually, with the pandemic it has become a trend. Last year we had a record number of visits to national parks – 1.5 million people, before that the record was about 900 thousand. So that’s almost 50 percent more than the previous record. If earlier it was only interesting for foreigners, now we see a lot of Kazakhstanis traveling through national parks and doing ecotourism. Caravanning and agritourism are also developing. I would like to…

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