President Tokayev Leads Meeting on Tourism Development

On June 13, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev chaired a meeting focused on advancing tourism in Kazakhstan. The event included key officials such as Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov, Head of the Presidential Administration Aybek Dadebai, Prosecutor General Berik Asylov, Chairman of the National Security Committee Yermek Sagimbayev, government members, regional leaders, heads of national companies, the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs "Atameken," and business representatives.

President Tokayev highlighted tourism as a crucial driver for the global economy, emphasizing its attractiveness to investors. He noted that tourism now contributes over 9% to the global GDP, nearing pre-pandemic levels, and supports about 10% of global employment.

“Kazakhstan possesses all the necessary resources for diverse tourism development, from ecological to business tourism,” Tokayev stated. However, he pointed out that despite Kazakhstan’s favorable location, diverse nature, and rich heritage, the tourism sector remains underdeveloped.

Tokayev criticized the decline in tourism’s economic contribution from 3.7% to 3.2% over the past four years, significantly lower than the global average and neighboring countries with similar climates and cultures. He called for urgent and systemic measures to boost the sector.

The President stressed the need to enhance the investment appeal of the tourism industry. Kazakhstan ranks 70th out of 119 countries in the World Economic Forum’s assessment of the business environment in tourism. He pointed out that the number of accommodation places in resort areas is not increasing despite growing tourist numbers, with notable declines in regions like Alakol and the Almaty mountain cluster.

Tokayev also addressed issues in land allocation for tourism development in national parks and forest lands, which limits long-term investments and infrastructure growth. He urged for transparent and stable conditions for attracting investors, including digitizing and providing open access to Master Plans for resort area development.

Additionally, Tokayev emphasized the importance of attracting foreign IT specialists, or “digital nomads,” instructing the government to launch Digital Nomad Visa and Residency programs by October.

Addressing the poor transport infrastructure, Tokayev criticized the outdated rail system and inadequate roads, calling for prompt upgrades to railway stations and the expansion of comfortable train services. He also highlighted the need to improve road connectivity to remote recreation areas and complete several unfinished road projects by year-end.

Tokayev pointed out that 90% of foreign tourists come from neighboring CIS countries, with few visitors from farther afield. He suggested that Kazakhstan could attract more tourists from China, India, East Asia, and the Middle East by tailoring tourism programs to their specific needs.

To boost tourism, Tokayev recommended increasing the presence of low-cost airlines, as their current share in Kazakhstan’s air transport market is significantly lower than in neighboring countries. He stressed the importance of stable conditions in the air transportation market to support tourism businesses.

Recognizing 2024 as the Year of Tourism of Kazakhstan in China, Tokayev emphasized leveraging the country’s cultural and tourist potential to attract Chinese tourists. He instructed the government to prepare border settlements for tourism, modernize border checkpoints, and ensure tourist safety.

Lastly, Tokayev highlighted the need for better engineering infrastructure in tourist areas, such as reliable electricity, sewerage, water supply, and access roads. He called for a separate budget program to address these needs and criticized the government’s plan to develop 20 tourist zones simultaneously, suggesting instead a focused approach on the most promising areas.

The President identified Almaty region’s mountain cluster, Mangystau’s beach tourism, and the Shchuchinsko-Borovskaya resort area as top priorities for development, envisioning them as key tourist attractions that can elevate Kazakhstan’s profile on the global tourism map.




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