Friday, July 20, 2012 -
Turkmen officials are looking to add to the Avaza tourism region by building two new theme parks, according to a tender announced on Thursday.
One of the proposed theme parks will be 24.6 acres, while the other will be 26 acres, according to the notice published on Turkmenistan.ru site.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov visited the Avaza national tourism district on Friday to open a new hotel on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
The new “Bereket” hotel boasts 138 rooms, as well as a restaurant, three bars, a children’s play room, a gift shop, and a supermarket.
However, the attempts to turn the Avaza region into a tourism hotspot have not been successful thus far.
Prices are too high for most Turkmen citizens, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Thursday. Turkmen citizens prefer to stay in neighboring town Turkmenbashi, also a Caspian resort town, which offers more affordable accommodations. Tourist visas for Russian visitors have also been denied, according to a Moscow tourism agency.
Turkmenistan’s notoriously difficult visa process is to blame for the lack of tourists flocking to Avaza, one Turkmen journalist told RFE/RL.
“They should scrap the mandatory letter of authorization, which takes several weeks to obtain,” Ashirguly Bayriev said. “There are other unnecessary restrictions for foreign tourists – they have to be accompanied by a local guide during their stay in the country. And they are allowed to stay only in designated hotels.”
The Avaza tourism region is a pet project of the Turkmen leader, who is trying to build a state-of-the-art tourist center on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan, buoyed by its substantial reserves of gas, has devoted $1.5 billion to the project in building hotels, as well as cultural and entertainment facilities on the 12,400-acre resort area.
Avaza also boasts an airport, desalination and water treatment plants and a power station.