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Kazakhstan mulls introducing visa-free regime for 26 nations this summer

Photo courtesy of aviasovet.ru Photo courtesy of aviasovet.ru

Kazakhstan plans to introduce visa-free entry for citizens of 26 countries, Tengrinews reports citing the Deputy Chairman of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs Gulnar Kurbanbayeva.

“Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior Ministry, National Security Committee and National Chamber of Entrepreneurs have jointly developed the visa-free regime project along with the Ministry of Investments and Development. It continues the pilot project that covered 10 countries. This time the number of countries will be increased to 26. We hope this will help us during the EXPO,” Kurbanbayeva told the journalists at the briefing in the Central Communications Service headquarters in Astana.

The pilot project that Kurbanbayeva referred to was launched on July 15, 2014 and lasted until July 15, 2015. It enabled citizens of the USA, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Malasiya, the UAE, South Korea and Japan to enter Kazakhstan on visa-free basis and stay there for up 15 days at a time. These ten nations are Kazakhstan's leading investors.

In October last year, Kazakhstan's Tourism Association suggested extending the project till October 2015. The head of the association Rashida Shaikenova said that the project had a positive effect, because the number of tourists from these countries increased by 13-14%, which, in turn, shows that there was a demand for such a regime.

However, later that month, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Kazakhstan was not planing to immediately extend the visa-free regime for 10 countries, although a Foreign Ministry representative emphasised that it in no way meant that the regime would not be reintroduced in Kazakhstan at a later date.

The final decision was supposed to be made after the Ministry completed the analysis of the effect produced by the pilot project during the heat of the tourist season. The results probably showed that there was a positive effect, since Kazakhstan now mulls reintroducing this regime.

“We hope that we will develop a new legal document by this summer, which will allow (foreigners) enter our country on a visa-free basis,” Gulnar Kurbanbayeva added, albeit she did not specify which 16 countries joined the previous 10 on the list.

Reporting by Assemgul Kassenova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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