• KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01138 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00221 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09353 0.97%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 93

Kazakhstan President Pinpoints Flaws in Tourism Development

On June 13, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev chaired a government meeting on the development of the country’s tourism industry. He opened by noting that despite its favorable geographical location, the diversity of its nature, and its rich historical and cultural heritage, Kazakhstan’s wide-spanning tourism potential remains largely unexploited. “Tourism as an important sector of the economy is not yet effective, which is a big omission of the government. Over the past four years, the share of tourism in the economic structure has decreased from 3.7% to 3.2%, almost threefold lower than the world average. According to this indicator, Kazakhstan falls below neighboring countries with similar climates and culture. It is obvious that a qualitative breakthrough in the development of the tourism industry requires urgent systemic measures,” said the president. Tokayev then outlined areas in need of urgent improvement, beginning with problems posed by the country’s weak transport infrastructure for domestic tourism: “The quality of railway transportation in the country is beyond criticism. Most of the rail carriages are worn out, and some do not even have air conditioning. The government needs to renew the fleet of rail carriages in the next five years. In addition, it is important to improve railway stations. Their appearance and infrastructure must meet international standards. In summer, the flow of railway passengers increases sharply. It is therefore necessary to increase the number of trains with comfortable carriages to the most popular destinations. The quality of our roads also leaves much to be desired, making it very difficult to reach remote recreation areas by car. There are practically no fully serviceable highways. The reconstruction of the Astana-Almaty highway, connecting the south and center of Kazakhstan, has been ongoing since 2021. There are many similar unfinished roads across the country and it is imperative that the government completes these road projects this year.” The President emphasized that the poor logistics connectivity of holiday destinations affects not only domestic tourism, but also the influx of guests from abroad. “Almost 90% of foreign tourists come to Kazakhstan from neighboring CIS [former Soviet] countries. There are still few tourists from non-CIS countries. International studies show that over 70% of travelers prefer to visit vacation destinations within a 4-hour flight, making Kazakhstan  very attractive to tourists from China, India, East Asia, and the Middle East. It is also necessary to consider, specific issues related to the national mentality of foreign tourists, their interests, and requests. Within 5 years we can double and even triple the number of foreign tourists but to do so, we need to develop air transport, firstly by expanding the presence of low-cost airlines on popular air routes. Their current share in passenger air transportation in Kazakhstan is only 21%.” The head of state criticized the Government's plans to simultaneously develop 20 tourist zones across the country, claiming the approach ineffective regarding the dispersion of the state's limited resources. Instead, he recommended that efforts focused on the development of the most promising locations, in the shortest possible time,...

Is Afghanistan Ready for Dialogue with Central Asia on Water Issues?

Against the backdrop of the silence of Central Asian countries, as well as their lack of a coordinated position on the construction of the Qosh Tepa Canal in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban are moving forward with the project with growing confidence and without regard to their neighbors. Last October, at the ceremony to mark the launch of the second phase of the canal’s construction, Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi called Qosh Tepa, “one of the most significant development projects in Afghanistan,” while its realization should remove all doubts about the capabilities of the new Afghan authorities, he added. There is no point in discussing the economic rationale for the canal; like other practical measures taken by the Taliban in the water and energy sphere, for Afghanistan, where 90% of the population is employed in agriculture, the provision of irrigation water is undoubtedly an important task. According to the UN, over the past four decades, desertification has affected more than 75% of the total land area in the northern, western, and southern regions of the country, reducing the vegetation of pasture land, accelerating land degradation, and impacting crop production. However, this socio-environmental problem affects the interests of all the peoples of Central Asia, which geographically includes the entire north of Afghanistan. It arose as an objective need for development, and solving it requires the combined efforts of all countries in the region, which is already on the verge of a serious water crisis that threatens not only economic development, but also the lives of millions of people. In general, the Taliban have emphasized their openness in matters of trans-boundary water management, but, so far, these are only statements. They are more motivated by political issues around their international recognition. That is why it is important for them to participate in global events, such as UN climate change conferences, but they have yet to take part in any climate talks. Hopefully, Afghan representatives will be invited to the COP29 Global Impact Conference in Baku this November, especially since one of the key topics of this forum will be a “just energy transition.” It would be interesting to hear what the Taliban have to offer. Though the authorities in Kabul have had some success in water regulation with Iran, the same cannot be said about Central Asia. This clearly owes to the fact that the five Central Asian republics have not taken a unified position on trans-boundary waters with Afghanistan. And their southern neighbor has taken advantage of this – to date, Kabul has not held any full-fledged official consultations with any Central Asian country on the Qosh Tepa Canal. However, just as bilateral formats will not yield results (unlike in Iran's case), the Taliban leadership will not be able to resolve water issues easily with the Central Asian countries. Afghanistan is not a party to the Central Asian Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Joint Management on the Utilization and Protection of Water Resources from Interstate Sources. It was...

Central Asia – EU Political and Security Cooperation

On June 5, Brussels hosted the 11th round of the annual High-Level Political and Security Dialogue between the European Union and Central Asia. Chaired by Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, the meeting was attended by Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. As reported by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry, the agenda comprised the implementation of the Joint Roadmap for Deepening Ties between Central Asia and the EU, the dynamics of transport, trade, economic, energy and climate relations, and common security challenges regarding Afghanistan. Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, presented several initiatives relating to energy, trade and water resources management aimed at enhancing interregional cooperation with the EU. Outlining the priorities of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), he highlighted a program for continuous monitoring of the basin ecosystem. To be implemented over the next three years, the initiative will provide a mechanism for long-term intraregional cooperation on the Aral issue. Vassilenko also reiterated the need for Central Asian countries to synchronize efforts in the fields of effective irrigation, the operation of water and energy facilities, and the implementation of environmental measures. The European External Action Service reported that in turn, the EU had reaffirmed its willingness to support efforts to intensify its cooperation on security with Central Asia, especially in areas concerning management of water-related challenges, energy and climate change, and connectivity. The High-Level Political and Security Dialogue was the latest conference to be held within the context of increased engagement between Central Asia and the European Union. Central Asia’s Heads of State and the President of the European Council had previously met on 27 October 2022 and 2 June 2023.  At a further EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting on 23 October 2023 in Luxembourg, the 27 EU Foreign Ministers adopted a Joint Roadmap for Deepening Ties between the EU and Central Asia with concrete actions for strengthening cooperation, most notably regarding security. The EU and Central Asian countries are now planning the first-ever EU-Central Asia Summit for later this year.    

British Magazine Ranks Kazakhstan’s Katon-Karagay Top Travel Destination  

The Katon-Karagay district in Eastern Kazakhstan has been included in Asia & the Middle East's top sustainable travel destinations for 2024 by the British magazine Wanderlust. The district is home to Katon-Karagay National Park. Spanning over 643,000 hectares, the park was designated a Kazakh-Russian transboundary biosphere reserve in 2017 by the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. In promoting the reserve, Wanderlust stated: “Five years ago, residents of the Katon-Karagay district – a sweep of lonely steppe, mountains and forests in far eastern Kazakhstan – faced a dilemma. Though home to the country’s largest national park and around 275 bird species, its 48 villages attracted few visitors, and there was little work available. As a result, its population had almost halved since the turn of the century, many residents having moved to cities in search of employment. So in 2019 the Sustainable Rural Development Fund was launched, with the aim of improving the quality of life in three remote districts, including Katon-Karagay. Key to this effort was the creation of sustainable community tourism opportunities, including training guesthouse owners and opening a hospitality school. Money has also been allocated to trail maintenance, signs and a tourist information centre, making it easier for travellers to explore a region whose communities and culture are finally being appreciated.”  

Kazakhstan Reports Another Big Jump in Saiga Antelope Numbers

The number of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan has surged to an estimated 2,833,600, an increase of well over 40% since last year, according to an aerial survey conducted between mid-April and May 1. The total number is likely to be much higher because the study was done before the calving season in May The new data represents another step in the extraordinary comeback of a species whose numbers were estimated at 20,000 in 2003 and then, after a period of growth, suffered another big population crash because of a bacterial disease outbreak in 2015. A reduction in poaching and the expansion of land earmarked for conservation helped the species recover in Kazakhstan, though saigas are vulnerable to several diseases and extreme weather. Some farmers say ballooning saiga numbers threaten their crops and the government has explored mass kills and other ways to regulate the population. Helicopters were used to count the antelopes over an area of about 150,000 square kilometers this year, logging 215 flight hours as they flew at a steady altitude of 120 meters, according to the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, which aims to restore the Kazakh steppe ecosystem. It said state agencies were involved and the science - survey route plans, data collection and result processing – was carried out by the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan. “These annual figures are made using the same methodology which is well established,” the conservation initiative said on June 3. “They are derived by extrapolation and primarily reflect the trend in the species’ numbers, i.e. an increase of over 40%, and the approximate number. These data were obtained in April 2024, before calving, which took place in May, so now, by the beginning of June, considering the successful breeding season, the number of the species will have almost doubled.” The surveys were carried out in the regions of West Kazakhstan, Mangistau, Akmola, Aktobe, Kostanay, Karaganda, Ulytau, Pavlodar and Abay. The dry steppe grasslands and semi-arid deserts of Central Asia are the saiga’s natural habitat. The vast majority of saigas are in Kazakhstan; Russia and Mongolia have small populations. Saigas from Kazakhstan have migrated in and out of Uzbekistan, sometimes reaching Turkmenistan. But such cross-border movements have dropped. The number reaching Uzbekistan has declined, partly because a border fence was built, and saigas haven’t been seen in Turkmenistan for several years, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature, a group based in Switzerland. Last year, the saiga’s conservation status on the red list was upgraded from “critically endangered” to “near threatened” because of its population gains. Saiga females start to breed when they are only eight months old and they often give birth to twins.

Heavy Chinese-Made Trucks Churning Up Kazakhstan’s Roads

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Transport has blamed the premature wear of its roads on heavy Chinese trucks. Some 60 thousand trucks are currently registered in Kazakhstan, including around 40 thousand heavy Chinese-made trucks. The weight of the latter when combined with overloaded cargo hovers around 35-40 tons and thus exceeds the maximum weight of 25 tons permissible on the asphalt roads. As a result, the country’s roads are sustaining serious damage and traffic of concrete mixers and truck cranes of similar weight only exacerbates the problem. Back in December 2022, it became law that all vehicles with a capacity to carry 12 tons pass through specially installed automated weight measurement stations. To ensure more rigid transport control, the ministry plans to significantly increase the number of weight measurement stations. As part of a pilot scheme, six new stations have been installed on the peripheries of Astana this year.  

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