Kazakhstan and China mull loosening visa regime
Kazakhstan is planning to sign a visa-free group travel agreement with China.
"Kazakhstan is going to declare the year 2017 a year of Chinese tourism in Kazakhstan," Mukhit Saimassayev, Vice Chairman of the Tourist Industry Committee of the Kazakhstan's Ministry of Industry and New Technologies told Tengrinews.
Kazakhstan is going to host the EXPO in 2017 and is expecting 5,000 visitors from China for the exhibition.
Many Kazakhstan citizens voiced their concerns after the announcement of the planned abolition of visas for the Chinese fearing that many of the "tourists" would stay in Kazakhstan. Active opponents of the initiative are planning to hit the streets in a public rally on September 15.
The "visa free regime" does not mean full cancellation of visas for the Chinese, but involves introduction of ADS visas for group travel, Kazakhstan Tourist Association president Roza Assanbayeva explained. "China has a special traveling policy that uses the Approved Destination Status (ADS) as a marker for the countries that are on the list of recommended destinations for Chinese tourists," Kazakhstan Tourist Association president Roza Assanbayeva explained. "Attribution of the status involves signing of a bilateral agreement that is used by the Chinese government to permit its tourism operators to organize tours to the country, and the country allows entry of Chinese tourists under ADS group tourist visas."
Signing of this agreement by Kazakhstan and China is expected to increase the flow of tourists to Kazakhstan.