The Kyrgyz Republic, or Kyrgyzstan as it is popularly known, will launch an electronic visa system later in 2017. The landlocked Central Asian nation will soon offer prospective visitors an electronic visa to encourage tourism, an industry that has seen its numbers decline in recent years.
With nearly 94% of the land in Kyrgyzstan consisting of wild mountainsides and pristine lakes, authorities hope that visitors will be drawn to the country’s greatest tourist attraction: its natural, unspoiled beauty.
Improving Infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan
Azamat Zhamankulov, head of the Kyrgyz department of tourism, announced that the country has plans to rekindle its tourism industry through offering an electronic visa system for visitors. The idea behind the initiative is to attract tourism to the country by implementing a hassle-free eVisa system.
But he also warned that the country has some infrastructure issues to fix as well. “Tourism is a priority sector of the economy, but we must work together to resolve the existing problems,” said Zhamankulov. “To attract tourists, we need to tell visitors about us and prepare for their stay.”
Despite its impressive natural landscapes, tourism to Kyrgyzstan is not as high as it could be. About 70% of tourists that come into the country are from former Soviet countries, like Russia or Kazakhstan. Arabs and Indians also visit in high numbers.
But to attract even more tourists - especially from China, another rich neighbor - Zhamankulov said that significant reforms need to be made to the country’s infrastructure. This includes improving sanitary and bathroom conditions and transportation. The Kyrgyz government is also considering creating a tourism police to keep visitors safe.
“If we want tourism to become the engine of our economy, it is necessary to invest,” Zhamankulov said.
Benefits of the eVisa for Kyrgyzstan
While most visitors will not need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan for up to 60 days - including the United States, Australia, and Canada - the creation of an electronic visa system will greatly benefit Kyrgyzstan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan.
Eric Beishembiev, Kyrgyz ambassador to Pakistan, noted that after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the U.S., the tourism industry in Kyrgyzstan took a major hit. As a result, most tourists headed for the Middle East or China instead.
At a recent event in Karachi, Ambassador Beishembiev suggested the formation of a joint Pakistani-Kyrgyz tourism council to remedy this and to promote tourism between both countries. By working together on efforts to promote tourism and encourage economic growth in local communities - not to mention helping visitors to this part of the world discover the heart of central Asia.
The electronic visa system is set to be implemented in Kyrgystan in late 2017.