Tourism in Kazakhstan

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Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country by area and the largest landlocked country. Today, tourism is not a major component of the economy. As of 2014, tourism has accounted for 0.3% of Kazakhstan's GDP, but the government has plans to increase it to 3% by 2020.[1][2] The country inherited the culture of the ancient Silk Road, Nomadic lifestyle and Soviet Union which had a great influence on its formation. This mixture makes Kazakhstan so different from any other country in the region and in the world.[1]

According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, travel and tourism industry GDP in Kazakhstan is $3.08 billion or 1.6 percent of total GDP. The WEF ranks Kazakhstan 81st in its 2017 report, which is four positions higher compared to the previous period.[3] Kazakhstan received 6.5 million tourists in 2016.


In 2012, Kazakhstan ranked 51st in the world in terms of number of tourist arrivals. In 2000 total 1.47 million international tourists visited Kazakhstan, which was increased to 4.81 million in 2012.[4] The Guardian describes tourism in Kazakhstan as, "hugely underdeveloped," despite the attractions of the country's dramatic mountain, lake and desert landscapes.[5] Factors hampering an increase in tourist visits are said to include "shabby infrastructure," "poor service" and the logistical difficulties of travel in a geographically enormous, underdeveloped country.[5] Even for locals, going for holiday abroad may cost only half the price of taking a holiday in Kazakhstan.[5] High-end tourists like Britain's Prince Harry have visited for the skiing.[6]

According to the UK consulting firm Brand Finance, Kazakhstan is one of the fastest growing nation brands of 2019. The country was ranked 44th in the 2019 report, which is 7 spots higher than in the previous year. According to the report, a good nation brand can help boost inbound tourism and promote economic cooperation with other countries.[7]

Government initiative[edit]

The Kazakh Government, long characterized as authoritarian with a history of human rights abuses and suppression of political opposition,[8] has started an initiative named the "Tourism Industry Development Plan 2020". This initiative aims to establish five tourism clusters in Kazakhstan: Astana city, Almaty city, East Kazakhstan, South Kazakhstan, and West Kazakhstan Oblasts. It also seeks investment of $4 billion and the creation of 300,000 new jobs in the tourism industry by 2020.[9][5]

In May, 1999 the Kazakhstan Tourism Association (President - Roza Asanbayeva) was founded with the approval of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. KTA is a non-commercial, non-governmental organization including following members: the Kazakhstan Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Honour President - Kuat Tanysbayev), Amadeus computerized reservation systems, tour operators, insurance companies, airlines, universities and the media. The association's main objective is to protect the interests of over 400 members, by lobbying the government and promoting tourism within the national economy.[10]

The 2006 comedy film Borat, which portrayed Kazakhstan as a comically backwards, racist and antisemitic country, resulted in an increase in tourism.[11] The government banned the film and took out advertisements to defend the nation's honor. By contrast, upon the release of the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, in 2020, the national tourism agency Kazakh Tourism adopted the film's catchphrase as its slogan – Kazakhstan. Very Nice! – and produced a number of videos featuring it.[12]

Visa policy[edit]

Kazakhstan offers a permanent visa-free regime for up to 90 days to citizens of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia and Ukraine and for up to 30 days to citizens of Argentina, Azerbaijan, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.[13]

Kazakhstan established a visa-free regime for citizens of 45 countries including European Union and OECD member states, the USA, UAE, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.[14]

In September 2020, Kazakhstan started issuing visas electronically.[15] The country also expanded the list of countries whose citizens can get single-entry business visas, tourist visas and medical treatment visas online. The new list includes 109 states.[15]

Arrivals by country[edit]

Most visitors arriving to Kazakhstan were from the following countries of nationality:[16]

Tourism to Kazakhstan by state, 2013–2016
Country 2016 2015 2014 2013
 Uzbekistan Increase 2,459,757 Increase 2,297,180 Decrease 2,107,177 Increase 2,494,568
 Russia Decrease 1,587,409 Decrease 1,646,568 Decrease 1,757,721 Increase 1,780,574
 Kyrgyzstan Decrease 1,348,709 Increase 1,359,625 Decrease 1,308,139 Decrease 1,382,706
 Tajikistan Increase 207,009 Increase 158,507 Decrease 137,443 Increase 186,214
 China Increase 117,465 Decrease 111,706 Increase 228,617 Increase 205,066
 Azerbaijan Increase 94,846 Increase 89,296 Decrease 83,174 Increase 112,617
 Germany Increase 90,286 Increase 88,346 Increase 79,572 Decrease 75,491
 Turkey Decrease 89,611 Increase 106,301 Increase 104,986 Increase 92,070
 Ukraine Decrease 73,390 Increase 97,100 Increase 84,932 Increase 82,971
 Belarus Increase 63,520 Increase 62,786 Increase 55,356 Increase 55,090
 Turkmenistan Decrease 63,156 Increase 69,230 Increase 66,938 Increase 47,711
 United States Decrease 26,402 Increase 29,124 Increase 25,824 Decrease 22,508
 Armenia Decrease 26,097 Decrease 37,461 Decrease 39,934 Increase 54,244
 South Korea Increase 22,276 Increase 22,046 Increase 20,445 Decrease 16,620
 United Kingdom Decrease 20,166 Increase 24,201 Increase 23,036 Decrease 22,389
Total Increase 6,509,390 Increase 6,430,158 Decrease 6,332,734 Increase 6,841,085


  1. ^ Joanna Lillis for EurasiaNet, part of the New East. "Summer holiday in Kazakhstan? Astana eases visa restrictions to attract tourists | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Kazakhstan: Astana Announces Visa-Free Travel for 10 High-Investing States". 16 June 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Country profiles". Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  4. ^ "International tourism, number of arrivals – Kazakhstan". Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Lillis, Joanna (17 July 2014). "Summer holiday in Kazakhstan? Astana eases visa restrictions to attract tourists". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Prince Harry in Kazakhstan: ski resorts and other attractions". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Nation Brand report 2019" (PDF). Brand Finance.
  8. ^ Zarakhovich, Yuri (27 September 2006). "Kazakhstan Comes on Strong". Time. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Kazakhstan to develop its tourism industry. Environment.". 18 June 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Две крупнейшие ассоциации туризма в Казахстане отмечают дни рождения".
  11. ^
  12. ^ Stein, Joel (26 October 2020). "Kazakhstan, Reversing Itself, Embraces 'Borat' as Very Nice". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Visa Information". Timatic. IATA. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Kazakhstan abolishes visa requirements for travellers from 45 countries". The Lonely Planet.
  15. ^ a b "Kazakhstan amends regulations on visa issuance to foreign nationals".
  16. ^ Туризм Казахстана. 2.4 Количество посетителей по въездному туризму

External links[edit]