Tourism development along the Silk Road

Kazakhstan: Tourism development along the Silk Road

The Great Silk Road is a unique historical monument of human civilization. For centuries, trade on the ancient caravan route contributed to the development of Eastern and Western Eurasia peoples’ economy and culture. Its importance is valuable nowadays also as modern tourism binds trade and business by cultural dialogue promoting understanding and peace between peoples. The Silk Road assists to establish multilateral relations among 24 member – states on the Silk Road Initiative project.
The idea of the Initiative project for cooperation developing and tourism promoting along the Silk Road was born 15 years ago, and was confirmed by the Samarkand Declaration in 1994.
Since then there were adopted the Khiva Declaration in 1999 and the Bukhara Declaration in 2002. The Astana Declaration on the Silk Road was adopted in 2009 at UNWTO 18th General Assembly Session, and the Almaty Declaration was adopted in 2008 at the 3rd Forum of "Silk Road" cities Mayors.
The implementation of the measures taken improved economic growth and integration of the Eurasian area, which is the main Silk Road region, centralizing its three key poles: China, Russia and the Persian Gulf. Kazakhstan, located in the heart of Eurasia, is a bridge between these poles and Central Asia countries: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, as well as, it is the main transit corridor to achieve major markets of the Silk Road countries.
Geostrategic location of Kazakhstan in the heart of Eurasia contributes to the fact that placed and places special emphasis on the revival of tourism on the Silk Road as a basic policy framework for tourism. In 1997 there was conducted the first tourism potential study in Kazakhstan as a part of UNWTO, UNESCO and UNDP "The Silk Road is the road of dialogue" transcontinental project. According to the results of this study, State Program "The Silk Road historic centers revival, preservation and successive development of the Turkic-speaking states cultural heritage, development of tourism infrastructure." was developed and approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
According to the Bukhara Declaration, adopted on 27 October 2002, UNWTO "The Silk Road" project member - states pledged to make efforts to strengthen regional cooperation in tourism on the multilateral and international basis. In this respect, to foster tourism development in this area in cooperation with Transport and Communication Ministry of Kazakhstan since 2004 "The Silk Road Pearl" specialized tourist train project has been implemented on the following route “Almaty – Turkestan – Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara – Urgench – Marry – Ashgabat – Almaty”.
Kazakhstan section of the Silk Road is a unique complex of historical, archaeological, architectural, urban and monumental art; at the moment 22 ancient settlements have been opened here including the castles of the landlords. Two unique antiques are on UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List: the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassaui in Turkestan and "Tamgaly" archaeological complex near Almaty. Among the most important tourist destinations on the Silk Road are Almaty, Taraz, Turkestan and Otrar in South Kazakhstan oblast.
The project of the State program of forced industrial-innovative development for 2010-2014 includes measures to establish a national tourism cluster building multipurpose centers and tourist complexes along the international transport corridor "Western Europe - Western China".
This highway with a total length 2700 km. coincides with Kazakhstan section of the Silk Road and passes through the five areas (Almaty, Dzhambyl, South Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda and Aktobe), alongside the highway there is a population of about five million people, which provides a unique opportunity for the formation of a national tourism cluster along it. First of all, it's investment for 30 roadside infrastructure objects building, 8 motels on both sides of the road. The basic ideology of investment projects implementation along the Silk Road highway is to create a high-tourist cluster of the country, representing a network of integrated, inter-related tourist facilities and associated industries in the tourism industry.
On the branches of the Silk Road Kazakhstan section the most promising projects are:
- "Zhana-Ile" international tourist center building on Kapshagai Sea coast in Almaty oblast;
- "Ancient Otrar" and "Ancient Turkestan" tourist infrastructure developing in South Kazakhstan oblast;
- "Burabai" international tourist center building in Akmola oblast, which is a free economic zone;
- "Aktau - City" new millennium city building on the western turn-out of the Silk Road Kazakhstan section in Mangystau region.
Besides, "Kenderli" international tourist center is planned to be built on the Caspian Sea coast.
Kazakhstan actively participates and initiates a number of activities along the Silk Road.
From 2 to 4 September 2008 in Almaty was held the 3rd Forum of "Silk Road" cities Mayors on the New Silk Road "from the great tradition of modern tourism, and cooperation", which was attended by mayors, government representatives and business communities from 27 countries and heads of international organizations. The aim of the Forum was further development of integration between the cities, promotion of innovative ways to finance tourism along the Silk Road, to improve mutual understanding between the people and the harmonious development of the region. One important issue under discussion was the question about the problems of barriers to the development of regional tourism.
In October 2010, Kazakhstan took part in the 5th International Meeting on the Silk Road, held in Samarkand (Uzbekistan), which brought together representatives from 25 countries. The meeting adopted the "Action Plan on the Silk Road in 2010 to 2011" as a basis for further development of tourism along the Silk Road. Following the meeting, recommendations were made concerning the joint participation and cooperation of all countries to strengthen the Silk Road brand "Silk Road", the pooling of resources, reduction of border and political barriers, the simplification of visa and border procedures between the countries of the Silk Road.
Under the adopted plan of action for the International Tourism Exhibition 2010 WTM London market has already taken place Media Silk Road, which was attended by representatives of the countries of Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Kazakhstan introduced the most interesting information about Kazakhstan, as well as priority investment projects to forum participants, the media, the leading foreign tour operators.
Today, still remain significant obstacles to closer economic cooperation in Central Asia. First of all, visa problems, unfortunately, to date there is no consensus on the issue of mutual recognition of tourist visas for the third country nationals. And it is this question would help to raise the tourism on the Silk Road through the development and promotion of joint tourist routes. Kazakhstan came out and will advocate for the implementation of the proposal in the medium term, as a modern tourist potential is interested in visiting several countries as part of tours along the Silk Road, preferably with a tourist visa for up to 3 months and recognized in the countries visited. Need to develop the potential of products Silk Road, which includes:
- building and development of joint tourism products, involving visits to several countries / areas;
- developing arts and crafts in order to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Silk Road;
- developing, implementing and promoting joint strategies, programs and marketing;
- forming and improving the Central Asian region tourist image and CIS countries in tourism along the Silk Road.
In conclusion, I note that the Silk Road is one of the best brands and world-class planning and controlled development of tourism resources and products around the Silk Road are important to the economic benefits from tourism by all countries of the Silk Road.




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