Ecotourism sees growing popularity among Kazakh residents

Kazakhstan's tourism industry is actively recovering from the COVID-19 restrictions. According to industry experts, last year, the number of domestic tourists in the country was about eight million people. This is a record figure compared to the previous three years. In addition to the growing interest in domestic travel among Kazakh residents, ecotourism is now becoming a key tourism form for them.

“Previously ecotourism in Kazakhstan primarily attracted inbound travelers, that is foreign tourists. However, the COVID-19 period, the years preceding it, and a growing trend towards ecotourism worldwide encouraged Kazakh residents to explore more ecotourism destinations domestically. Last year, the most visited destination in the country was the Almaty mountain cluster due to the national parks located there. At the same time, according to last year's statistics, Burabai National Park was the most visited one. This indicates that tourism is developing in the national parks,” said Yernur Kenzhebekov, Press Secretary of Kazakh Tourism National Company.

The development and popularity of ecotourism are growing. Therefore, tour operators began to offer travelers new routes and destinations. One of them is the Atyrau region, where the Kigach river valley is abundant in pristine natural beauty. The main feature of the area is the blooming Caspian lotus flowers.

“It is a unique tourism product, since this is the northernmost lotus bloom in the world. Domestic travel agencies can provide a special tour package to this destination. In general, tourism in the Atyrau region is on the rise. For example, the Saraishyk visitor center opened in the vicinity of the ancient settlement, where tourists can get a lot of information not only about the settlement, but also about the Atyrau region and what it has to offer, including well-known large water bodies and unique natural sites, for example Inder Salt Lake. The Atyrau region is an attractive destination for tourists,” Kenzhebekov added.

Experts note that the growth of domestic tourism can be attributed, among other factors, to the country’s expanding infrastructure, new railway routes, and programs developed and implemented by the government. For example, the Kids Go Free tourism program has enabled almost 3,500 children to travel by air within the country for free over the past two years.