The Central Asian countries are paying particular attention to the tourism potential. The Silk Road concept is the main development driver here. At present, this transcontinental route is the world brand and sparks great interest. Travelers are attracted by unique, rich heritage, nature and culture of peoples living in that territory. For instance, Uzbekistan offers tourists to see such masterpieces of medieval architecture as Gur-e-Amir in Samarkand and Ichan Kala in Khiva. Turkmenistan astonishes by such unique natural landscapes as the ‘Plateau of Dinosaurs’, Darvaza gas crater, and the city of white marble Ashgabat. Kazakhstan can attract tourists by its ancient sacral places and modern cities of Astana and Almaty. Alpinists flock to Tajikistan from around the world to conquer the highest mountain peaks of Pamir.

AYA KUSSAINOVA, HEAD OF NATIONAL TOURISM INUSTRY ASSOCIATION:

 - If Kazakhstan develops eco- and ethno-tourism, Uzbekistan offers historical and cultural attractions because they have a lot of places that have remained since the time when they were built. We mainly offer ethno and cultural tourism, and here we share common heritage with Kyrgyzstan, because we have a very similar culture, similar history. Therefore, we cooperate harmoniously, because we, so to speak, exchange tourists.

Silk Road routes are in high demand among travelers. The package includes visiting a number of Central Asian countries in ten days. They can see such cities as Taraz, Turkestan, Sayram, Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand, that used to be international transshipment points and vital centers of trade, crafts and interaction of cultures. Such tours are mainly popular among Europeans, Indians and citizens of the neighboring countries.

BAKDAULET TASHMANOV, DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL TRAVEL COMPANY:

 - Our main customers are tourists from China, neighbouring Uzbekistan and Iran, as well as locals. Citizens of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China are very interested in these destinations. We offer tours to Uzbekistan, that is, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva – these cities are a part of our history that is why we need to jointly develop tourism.

To increase the tourist flow, the countries of the region simplify the visa entry. Kyrgyzstan introduced a visa-free entry for citizens of 58 countries, Uzbekistan - for 35, Kazakhstan - for 63 countries. In turn, the visa in Tajikistan is issued in a simplified order - within three days for representatives of 80 countries. The main advantage of traveling in Central Asia is the relatively low prices for services compared to other destinations. An important factor is the absence of a language barrier, and a benevolent attitude to travelers.

AYA KUSSAINOVA, HEAD OF NATIONAL TOURISM INUSTRY ASSOCIATION:

 - Tourists enjoy being in nature, riding horses and living in yurts away from civilization. Our country abounds with pristine nature where eco-tourism can be developed. There are very few places in the world where there is no civilization. We have plenty of them and we should use this advantage. 

EDMONDO CHIRIELLI, ITALIAN MP:

 - Both Italians and Europeans love exotic places. I think, Kazakhstan bridges Europe and Asia and has unique history, which is unknown to the west, and may become a very interesting tourist route because the country is absolutely safe and well-organized. Soon Kazakhstan’s tourism industry will be able to offer a lot to Western travelers.

Experts say that there are very high prospects for tourism development in the region. The Central Asian countries intend to continue cooperation in this direction, remove administrative barriers and increase the flow of tourists.

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