Kyrgyz Concept president: I am optimistic about tourism development in Kyrgyzstan, but it could have been much better
13/08-2007 16:50, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency , By Igor GORBACHEV
Experts say that this year Kyrgyzstan has an enormous inflow of tourists. In order to check this data News Agency “24.kg” has turned to the president of Kyrgyz Concept travel company Emil Umetaliev, who knows a thing about tourism in Kyrgyzstan.
Emil Satarovich, it was announced during the second session of the Investment council under Kyrgyz president that the list of free travel visa countries is to be reconsidered. What do you think about it?
Talks about free travel visa regime for USA and Western Europe are on for many years. Everybody understands that visa regime is outdated and needs to be entirely changed. However, it has only been simplified. Just like you can not be a little pregnant, the visa regime can not be simplified.
Even the most closed states try to attract tourists, especially from Europe, Japan and USA. We offer our services when we invite people to visit our country. If we invite tourists we should cancel visa regime. Visa is always a restriction. It is an instrument of foreign policy used for those countries which tourists are not welcomed. If to cancel the visa regime, tourists from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan China will visit Kyrgyzstan which is on the way, only because it is visa free. Even the most conservative predictions say that the influx of tourists will grow at least by 20-30 percent.
When you travel to the Issyk-Kul Lake you have a feeling that you are somewhere about 20 years ago. Modern houses with all facilities stay next to huts…
It is true. It is an easy and cheap opportunity for locals to enter the business of tourism. I don’t mind this phenomenon. It will disappear by itself. Any supply exists only until there is a demand for it.
If to speak about level of service at the Issyk-Kul Lake, I think it will not get better until government does not create clean and honest real estate market. Today there are no professional businessmen in tourism on Kyrgyz market.
What can you say about policemen of the Issyk-Kul region?
I have heard a lot about them. They seem to be very happy that Kyrgyzstan has so many tourists this year. They gladly fine them and take their driving licenses away, making money this way The speed limits are too old for modern cars. I think the speed limits and other traffic rules of the region should be changed in accordance with current state of cars and roads. However, this is not the only paradox on which Kyrgyz people try to make money.
Traffic police is a part of former socialistic system. It was demanded when government owned almost all autos in the country. Now the work of traffic police is mainly useless when 99 percent of the cars are private.
- What kind of tourism is mostly beneficial for Kyrgyzstan to promote? Ecotourism or vacation in prestigious hotels?
- One has to understand “ecotourism” term right. It is when a person goes to one place to explore nature and preserves it. But ecotourism cannot be everywhere. In addition, we cannot compare ecotourism to vacation in prestigious hotels. Kyrgyzstan should try to preserve its nature because it is our treasure and also it is the most invaluable thing that we can offer to tourists. Let us not forget that any kind of tourism should be aimed at preserving ecology.
- It seems that now tourists go only to Issyk-Kul, but there are many other beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan…
- Issyk-Kul is more popular because classic beach tourism is always a mass event. In addition, our neighbors from Kazakhstan have certain stereotypical image of what vacation is. They hhave such image from the soviet times. Although today they are changing visiting mountains, gorges, museums, but anyway it is not such type of tourism which is common in Western countries.
We have to invite guests from Western countries to develop tourism in all Kyrgyz regions. They will go to all places of Batken, Osh, Jalal-Abad and Naryn and cultivate tourism culture in those places.
- Is there any difference between current tourist season and last?
- Some tourist companies forecast that there will be 30 per cent of tourists more this year than in 2006. But it is a separate success. One can observe the global growth of tourism around the world, and Kyrgyzstan becomes the part of the process. We have to do our best not to stay aloof.
The main thing is not to hinder the process, not to put obstacles to businessmen and do not try to satisfy appetites of bureaucrats.
- Are you optimistic about the development of tourism in Kyrgyzstan?
- I have reasons for this. But I understand that everything could have been much better.
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