Tourism development program presented in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s Tourism Development Program until 2020, presented on March 30, aims at creation of favorable conditions for tourism and increase of its share in GDP by at least 7% and increase of the annual number of foreign tourists by 20%.

International tourism

International tourism brings about a quarter of total revenue from exports in Kyrgyzstan, said Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariyev. The tourism’s share in the country’s GDP is 4.5%.

Kyrgyzstan has no significant oil and gas reserves, and development of the tourism industry should be strategic direction of economic development, Sariyev said. The role of the tourism industry is huge in attracting investment, promoting economic growth, job creation, and the inflow of foreign currency.

Global trends indicate that traveling attracts more and more people in the world, so all countries are in active search of their uniqueness and attractiveness for international tourists. Kyrgyzstan should find its niche and take advantage of the tourism industry, Sariyev said.

There is currently an increased demand for adventure tourism in the global tourism market, and Kyrgyzstan has high potential in this sector. Kyrgyzstan’s mountains, rivers, glaciers and lakes are good for mountaineering, trekking, rafting, hunting and fishing.

To promote the country at the international level, the Prime Minister suggested using the brand “Kyrgyzstan the country of celestial mountains”.

There are many cultural and natural attractions including the alpine Issyk-Kul, Sary-Chelek and Son-Kul lakes. More than 90% of the country’s territory is at an altitude of over 1,000 meters above sea level, and the highest mountains in the world after the Himalayas and Pamir are in Kyrgyzstan – the Pobeda Peak (7,439 meters) and Lenin Peak (7,134 meters). One of the longest glaciers, Inylchek, is a landmark of global scale. The south of the country is famous for Arslanbob, the world’s largest relict walnut forests.

The National Geographic magazine listed Karakol mountain cluster in Issyk-Kul among the best ski resorts in the CIS countries in 2014. The Telegraph listed Kyrgyzstan among “the 12 countries you must visit.”

Kyrgyzstan has a visa-free regime for citizens of 66 countries. “The country has almost everything for the development of recreational and adventure tourism. We have to ensure that Kyrgyzstan become the most attractive place for visits, recreation, education, investment, and produce high-quality services,” the Prime Minister said.

“We should not be afraid of large projects. Kyrgyzstan can double and even triple the planned 7% annual growth of the tourism industry,” Sariyev said. First of all it is necessary to ensure the safety of tourists. In addition, there should be a very high tourism culture. “We should meet tourists as guests of honor. For centuries the Kyrgyz were famous for their hospitality.”
Issyk-Kul

The Issyk-Kul province should become a better place for training of athletes and sporting events, the Prime Minister believes. Tamchy Airport near Cholpon-Ata city, the Issyk-Kul tourism center, will operate year-round, and athletes will be able to easily get to Issyk-Kul for training and competitions.

Construction of a large racetrack has started according to international standards. A French company is building a treadmill, which will be the first in Central Asia.

The Government has begun reconstruction of the 104 kilometer Balykchy – Tamchi – Cholpon-Ata – Korumdu road along the northern shore of the lake.

According to the Association of resort institutions of the Issyk-Kul province, resorts and guesthouses around the lake are plagued by frequent checks of various state bodies. Some foreign tourists refuse to visit Kyrgyzstan due to its poor infrastructure and political instability. Until these problems are resolved, the tourism development program will remain unfulfilled, the Association said.

Country’s image

Most of internet information about Kyrgyzstan is about bride kidnapping and videos on revolutions, Director of the Tourism Department under the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism Azamat Jamankulov said. The Department plans to create a positive image of Kyrgyzstan through the media, press conferences, broadcast advertising of image clips and articles, and information tours for representatives of foreign media, bloggers and photographers. It is planned to broadcast a video about the World Nomad Games on BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera.

About 70% of tourists get information about Kyrgyzstan’s tourist sites from the Internet and 30% in tourist information centers. It is planned to open a tourist information center with modern facilities first in Bishkek and then in other regions.

Most of the tourists come to Kyrgyzstan from the CIS countries, mainly from Kazakhstan (70%) and Russia (13%).

The Department proposed considering the growing market of China and India. According to recent reports, 140 million Chinese are involved in outbound tourism, and their number will reach 220 million in 2020. This is a huge potential for Kyrgyzstan to attract tourists.