Monday, April 23, 2012 -
Central Asian officials on Monday are attributing a fictional movie character as well as recent unrest in the Arab world to the uptick in tourism to their countries.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov on Monday told a government session that the Sacha Baron Cohen film ‘Borat’ propelled the number of visitors to the vast Central Asian state.
“With the release of this film, the number of visas issued by Kazakhstan grew tenfold,” the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported Kazykhanov as saying.
“I am grateful to ‘Borat’ for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan.”
The 2006 film, a global smash success, followed the adventures of Kazakh national Borat in the United States and made him, and by extension Kazakhstan, the object of ridicule.
Kazakhstan has never taken kindly to the film, and publicly condemned the character and Cohen for mocking the country. Government officials banned the film from playing in the country.
In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where the government is trying to resuscitate its once-lucrative tourism sector, officials believe that unrest in the Arab world may spur more tourists turning to Kyrgyz locales.
“We expect a large influx of tourists from Russia, Kazakhstan, and other countries as well as unrest in the Arab world, Africa, the situation in Greece, forcing tourists to choose a safe holiday, and for that Kyrgyzstan is very well suited,” the semi-official Kabar.kg news agency quoted the chairman of the Association of Recreational Facilities of the Issyk-Kul Region, Akzholtoy Nasirdinov, as saying.
The tourism sector accounts for 4 percent of the tiny country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and Nasirdinov believes that the sector can increase its share of the economy to 12 or 15 percent.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Tajikistan, residents in the northern province Sughd are upset that a local orchard will be destroyed to make space for a nearly 230-foot flagpole.
The flagpole will be shipped from Turkey, and will be the second-highest in the mountainous, impoverished country.
The largest flagpole in Tajikistan is found in the capital Dushanbe, and reaches 541 feet tall.