World Bank loan will help develop Kazakh, Kyrgyz tourism

Almost 2.5 million people are expected to benefit from sustainable tourism development and greater regional connectivity in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul region as part of the Central Asia Regional Links programme’s third phase (CARs-3), reports devdiscourse.com.

The third phase was approved by the World Bank in October, for which $55 million will be provided by the International Development Association (IDA) in the form of a credit and grant and an additional $1.93 million by the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF) for technical support. Project implementation will occur in 2019-24 by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Transport and Roads in coordination with the Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism and the Issyk-Kul region administration.

According to World Bank Senior Transport Economist and Team Leader Cordula Rastogi, the rehabilitation of existing road links between Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul region and Kazakhstan’s neighbouring Almaty region will promote tourism, create jobs and connect people and markets. The distance between Almaty and Karakol will be halved so that Kazakh tourists, who constitute nearly 70 percent of the area’s tourists, will have better access to Kyrgyzstan’s most famous tourism destinations around the mountainous Lake Issyk-Kul. Kyrgyz tourism is expected to grow six-fold.

“The emphasis on regional and territorial development coincides with the announcement by the Kyrgyz President that 2018 is the year for the development of regions,” noted World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic Bolormaa Amgaabazar. “Comprehensive and interlinked modernisation of transport-tourism infrastructure will lead to diversification of the economy – the key to sustainable social and economic growth and people’s welfare.”

Kyrgyz residents involved in the tourism sector and exporters of agricultural produce to Kazakhstan will benefit from the project’s third phase. Visitors from Kazakhstan, Russia and Europe will also enjoy improved road and aviation safety, cross-border connectivity and bolstered economic exchanges along Central Asia’s Silk Route.

The Central Asia Road Links programme builds on the regional development initiatives by the Central Asia Regional Cooperation – 2030 (CAREC) programme headed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with contributions from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).