The number of tourists entering Kazakhstan has increased since the government introduced a 72-hour visa-free transit policy for Chinese and Indian citizens. Over 19,000 visitors have taken advantage of the scheme since its introduction 9 months ago according to the Kazakhstani Minister of Culture and Sports, Arystanbek Mukhamediuly.
The program is part of a wider government plan to boost tourism in Kazakhstan. The government has also introduced visa-free entry for 63 nationalities and continues to launch an eVisa for Kazakhstan over the coming months.
Kazakhstan is showing potential as becoming the Central Asian transport hub. It is often called the 'Bridge of Eurasia' and is a five-hour flight from both China and India.
The Kazakhstani Government are hoping to strengthen the strategic and economic partnership with India and China. They hope that the numbers of tourists from these countries will continue to rise as a result.
Conservative estimates suggest the visa-free transit for Indian and Chinese travelers has already contributed $14 million to the economy.
Kazakhstan has invested heavily in improving infrastructure in recent years. They have built logistics centers, international airports, cross-border cooperation centers, and new highways.
Why are tourists going to Kazakhstan?
Kazakhstan is the world's ninth-biggest country and is one of the most advanced economies of the old Soviet bloc. The country has transformed itself over the last couple of decades largely because of its abundant reserves of oil and other minerals.
This has lead to high standards of accommodation, restaurants, and transport in comparison to its neighboring countries. Almaty, the capital and biggest city, has become a testament to futuristic, contemporary architecture. Visitors can enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene and vast shopping malls.
Outside of the cities, visitors can witness stunning natural landscapes. The green valleys of the Tian Shan, the Haryn Canyon, and the Ak-Zhaiyk Reserve are ideal for hiking and other outdoors activities.
Kazakhstan's abundant wildlife includes pink flamingos, pelicans, snow leopards, red bears, and the Steppe eagle (which appears on the national flag).
Top experiences in Kazakhstan
The spectacular 300m-deep canyon was carved over millions of years. The other-worldly rock formations and colors are often compared to the Grand Canyon in the US. The most popular part, the Valley of Castles, can be accessed by car.
The site is extremely important for pilgrims who wish to visit the underground mosque and tomb of Beket-Ata (a famous mystic and teacher). The mosque is close to a breathtaking desert and canyon.
National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The impressive white and blue structure showcases the nation's history and culture through engaging displays of exhibits and artifacts. The highlights include stunning collections of jewelry as well as moving sections about the Soviet-era repression.
Shymbulak Ski Resort
It is only 30-minutes from Almaty so visitors can go there for a day-trip. It is open from November until May and there are around 20km of pistes. The views and facilities are excellent.