December 16, 2021, marks the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. Today, my country is a responsible participant in international community and makes an important contribution to strengthening regional and global security. It is obvious that the success story of Kazakhstan would not have been possible without the participation of our foreign partners, especially European nations.
The Kazakh-European relations are strengthening day by day also thanks to the steady growth of exchanges between thousands of students, scientists, artists, athletes and, of course, tourists. The Erasmus+ program has provided over 2,000 short-term scholarships to Kazakh students and teachers for education and training in Europe. About 1,000 scholarships were awarded to European students to study in Kazakhstan.
Currently, Kazakhstan participates in 49 out of 70 EU-funded projects in Central Asia.
The successful development of relations with Kazakhstan predetermined the support of the European Union for the idea of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy to conclude an ambitious and qualitatively new agreement for a reliable, mutually beneficial, effective and equal partnership for the long term.
Today Kazakhstan is the only country in Central Asia that signed the EPCA with the EU. This testifies to the fact that Kazakh-EU relations are reaching a qualitatively new level and are acquiring a strategic character.
Considering the enormous potential of the European Union and the significant experience it has accumulated in a variety of areas, the EPCA will contribute to the implementation of our country’s ambitious plans.
With the adoption of our climate commitments to achieve carbon neutrality until 2060, cooperation with the EU in “green development” becomes especially important for Kazakhstan. We see great potential for cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU in the process of implementing the European Green Deal.
Green development also encompasses tourism, which has great potential in Kazakhstan.
Unfortunately, at present, as in many countries, we comply with quarantine measures in the country.
Travel update: Starting from 3 December, a mandatory PCR test regardless of vaccination is required for persons arriving from countries where cases of infection with the new Omicron strain of coronavirus have been detected: Israel, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada, Egypt (no more than 3 days should pass from the day the test was taken till the moment of crossing the border of the Republic of Kazakhstan). Travelers arriving from these countries where cases of infection with the new strain of Omicron coronavirus have been detected should self-isolate for 7 days, regardless of the result of the PCR test.
However, I dare to say that the pandemic has opened up new niches in tourism and hospitality, for example, in agritourism and domestic tourism.
The beauty and richness of nature is one of the main assets that Kazakhstan can rightfully be proud of. The hot climate of the southern regions, the Caspian Sea, the Tien Shan mountains, the enchanting nature of East Kazakhstan and the medical resorts of the Burabai zone. Tourism in Kazakhstan is a promising area, on which serious stakes are now being made and which every year is gaining momentum of development. Turkestan and Aktau are cities that have become the main centers of attraction for tourists today.
In recent years, against the backdrop of a pandemic in Kazakhstan, there has been a tendency to reorient tourist flows from external to domestic ones. Interest in recreation in various regions, natural zones of the country began to grow. The environmental factor is becoming increasingly important, associated with the need to reduce the burden on the environment in developed resort areas, and, consequently, to search for new tourist areas.
On the other hand, there is a demand to involve the locals for the development of tourism. This is especially true for the villages and towns that are in close proximity to eco and historical sites.
Why not use the human capital in these places to create conditions to welcome tourists, accommode them, and offer local food and leisure?
We know that Italy, Spain, Portugal and many other European nations have great experience in agritourism, which sometime attracts more visitors than classic hotels and resorts.
Recently, Kazakh Tourism, together with the Association of Agro and Rural Tourism of Kazakhstan, organized expedition trips and introductory courses on agritourism for rural residents in seven regions of Kazakhstan. To identify promising points for the development of agritourism, field trips were carried out in the areas and districts such as Burabai, Tekeli, Butakovo in East-Kazakhstan region, Karkaraly, Karakiya, Aiyrtau and Saumalkol, Lobanovo village in Northern Kazakhstan and Kazygurt in Turkestan region. You can see in the picture that these places can offer incredibly beautiful experience to any traveller.
Each region has its own potential. The southern regions can attract by developed crop production, the central and northern regions – by grain crops, the western regions – by camel and goat farms, the eastern – by apiaries and maral breeding, sunflower fields, etc.
At the same time, the approach is the same – tourism based on the local community. That is, if one villager opens a guest house, another can launch a catering point, a third can be a guide to nearby tourist sites, a fourth can sell artisan products, and a fifth can organize master classes on his farm “how to make cheese and milk products”.
That is why we now focus on discovering the villages willing to develop agritourism for both domestic and international visitors.