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AKIPRESS.COM - The Kyrgyz Republic is the only country in Central Asia to have made relatively strong progress in tapping into the global tourism boom, according to the paper titled “Central Asia Trade and Human Development” released by UNDP on April 8.
Indeed, compared to other small Asian developing landlocked countries (e.g., Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal), the Kyrgyz Republic’s tourism sector already seems to be developing quite well. National Statistical Committee data indicate that, thanks in large measure to international visitors, tourism in the Kyrgyz Republic accounts for some 4-5% of GDP, and generated some $1.5 billion in service exports in 2012.
These data also show the sector accounting for some 100,000 jobs – 5% of totalemployment (7% for women).
However, more than 90% of the Kyrgyz Republic’s foreign visitors come from Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Uzbekistan. These data would seem to reflect in part the cross-border drawing power of the Issyk-Kul lake, as well as the commercial visits of traders from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
By contrast, tourists from neighbouring China, as well as from India, the European Union, and the USA account for only 5-7% of total annual visits.
The World Tourism Organization estimates that with improvements in the Kyrgyz Republic’s tourism infrastructure, the number of annual visits by international tourists could triple (National Sustainable Development Council). Moreover, increasing the numbers of tourists from these countries (who tend to be relatively well off) could disproportionately boost the income generated in this sector. This could have an important impact on poverty and employment.