Kazakhstan’s Minister of Culture and Sports Askhat Oralov introduced plans for developing the tourism industry for 2023 after examining the results of the work done in the previous year, QazMonitor reports.
The list of new initiatives includes a tourist cashback program for Kazakh citizens which will refund 20% of the tour expenses. Last year’s Kids Go Free which allowed 1,500 children to fly for free will also be renewed in 2023.
"This will create more opportunities for family vacations. That said, the Kids Go Free program has become more accessible to tour operators. The quota for the purchase of children's airfare has been increased and the timing of applications and payments has been reduced,” said Oralov at a meeting in the Burabay resort area.
The ministry has set out to improve Kazakhstan’s position in world rankings such as the Global Travel and Tourism Index ranking among others tasks like increasing the gross added value of the tourism industry, increasing the number of domestic and inbound travelers, and creating new jobs.
Infrastructure need to be developed
Oralov noted that since 2019 Kazakhstan has risen by 14 positions in the Global Tourism Index according to the World Economic Forum. Kazakhstan moved up from 80th place in 2019 to 66th place in 2021.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Kazakhstan tripled from 208 to 610 thousand in 2022 thanks to most international flights resuming starting from April.
In order to increase the country’s tourist attractiveness, the ministry put forth a new plan called the Grand Tour of Kazakhstan which prioritizes the development of five key tourist routes.
"These routes are already in demand. But not all of them are ready to accept a large number of tourists. Therefore, the Ministry along with the akimats plans to improve infrastructure and create conditions for tourists on the selected routes, to work on training and professional development of tourism workers and promotion of tours in the target markets together with tour operators," Oralov said.
Popular destinations like Lake Balkhash and national parks in the Almaty area will get infrastructural development as well.
The ministry is also planning to open new ski resorts due to the strain on existing resorts. For example, the number of tourists visiting Shymbulak on holidays and weekends exceeds the limit of 6 thousand people a day and reaches 12.5 thousand people.
Businesses benefit the most
Profit growth became an important marker of tourism development. In 2022, Owners of tourist infrastructure in every region of the country experienced a boost in profits, which increased by 60% in total compared to 2021.
Oralov emphasized that local businesses should benefit the most from the programs implemented by the state.
"It is necessary to strengthen the implementation of measures of state support, as well as to work to increase the availability of "long cheap" loans for entrepreneurs…I ask you to work with colleagues from the economic block of the Government on issues of extending the loan period for tourism projects and the limit of subsidies on loans issued."