Manas International Airport in Bishkek has announced that new regular flights between Bishkek and Beijing are to be carried out three times a week. The first flight from Beijing to Bishkek carried 90 passengers, while there were 150 people on the return flight. Direct flights from Bishkek to Chinese cities are operated by companies from Russia, Kazakhstan and China. The Chinese airline China Southern Airlines carries passengers from Beijing. The Kyrgyz government hopes that an increase in the number of flights from China will bring new economic opportunities and an increase in trade turnover between the two countries. Tourist flow from China, which had practically stopped since the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to restart. The first large group of tourists from China arrived in Bishkek in April last year on a flight from Urumqi. Earlier, representatives of the Kyrgyz tourism industry held a meeting with Chinese tour companies and representatives of the Chinese ministry of economy, where a simplified electronic visa system for Chinese tourists was introduced.
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Citizens of Kazakhstan can currently travel to 34 countries without requiring a visa, and it seems the power of the Kazakhstani passport may be set to increase further still. At the end of last week Kazakhstan's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Alibek Bakayev, held a second round of talks with the head of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, Kestutis Jankauskas, on the issue of EU visas. The introduction of a visa-free regime with the EU is not currently being discussed. However, the EU Schengen-area visa regime is being improved in the following areas: - introduction of a single list of documents required for a visa application; - a reduction in consular fees; - a shortening of the waiting period for applications; - increasing the validity period for multiple-entry visas. In 2024 citizens of Kazakhstan can visit 34 countries without obtaining a visa from a foreign consulate. These are: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, the Republic of Georgia, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Oman, UAE, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Serbia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. There are also several states where one can get a "visa upon arrival" stamp immediately upon entry. These states are Zambia, Indonesia (for 30 days), Mauritius, Namibia, and the Seychelles. However, that list will shrink in the spring of 2024: Kazakhstan's temporary visa-free regime with Thailand end on February 29. According to the Global Passport Power Ranking 2024 by Passport Index, Kazakhstan's passport ranks 56th in the world in terms of freedom of movement bestowed upon its holder.