Breaking Travel News interview: Yerbol Shormanov, deputy chairman, National Company Astana Expo 2017
Taking place from June to September this year, Astana Expo 2017 was an attempt by Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev to bolster the international prestige of his country.
Huge sums were invested in the development of the site, with millions of visitors expected for the event.
Here Breaking Travel News talks with Astana Expo 2017 vice chairman, Yerbol Shormanov, to see if the Expo lived up to expectations.
Breaking Travel News: With the Expo 2017 now closed, did it live up to the expectations of the organisers in Kazakhstan?
Yerbol Shormanov: Summing up Expo 2017 in Astana, we can confidently declare that, as organisers of the exhibition, we managed to exceed the plans stated in our main document, the registration dossier of the exhibition.
One of the key indicators of the success of the International exhibition was data on the number of visitors.
According to the registration dossier, we expected more than two million guests and about five million visits to the exhibition facilities.
In the end, around four million people visited Expo 2017.
Another important indicator of success was the number of participants.
Initially, we expected that around 100 countries and seven international organisations would participate in the Expo, however, at the beginning of the exhibition, their numbers increased to 115 countries and 22 organisations.
Twenty-eight heads of state, 36 prime ministers and their deputies were the honorary guests and participants in the exhibition.
More than more than half a million people from 187 foreign countries visited Expo 2017, making Astana one of the leading capitals in the field of event tourism this year.
This shows that Expo 2017 helped to raise the recognition and popularity of Kazakhstan among foreign audiences.
It is also reflected in the high evaluation of the International Bureau of Exhibitions.
In his recent address, secretary general of the bureau, Vicente Loscertales, noted that Astana Expo 2017 was the most successful among all the specialised exhibitions in the history of the International Bureau of Exhibitions.
As part of Expo 2017, nearly 3,500 cultural and recreational activities and business events were held, with the participation of leaders from business, politics, science, sport, culture and art.
Every day there were musical shows and evening parades at the exhibition.
In total, about 35,000 artists performed at the Expo in Astana.
We cannot fail to note the valuable contribution of the Expo to sustainable development, including the sustainable development of the world power sector.
There were 193 advanced technologies from around the world presented at Expo 2017, devoted to the topic of Future Energy.
Twelve two-day Future Energy Forum conferences were held as part of the exhibition.
The forum culminated with the Manifesto of Values and Principles, designed to be the intellectual heritage of Expo 2017.
The document includes key recommendations on the sustainable development of the planet: solutions and technologies that should become a foundation for transition to a new energy model throughout the world.
Some 1,400 small and medium business of the Republic of Kazakhstan participated in the construction and preparation of Expo 2017 facilities, 400 enterprises received orders and carried out work worth KZT414 billion.
As a result, 55,000 jobs were created.
BTN: How did Expo 2017 impact the development of the tourism industry in Kazakhstan?
YS: Thanks to Expo 2017, Kazakhstan had a unique opportunity to attract the attention of the world community to the pressing issues of future of energy and environmental protection, as well as to demonstrate the country’s potential for investment and tourism.
National Company Astana Expo 2017 held more than 100 road shows in Europe and Asia, which made it possible to establish close cooperation with foreign tour operators.
The company also participated in major international tourism exhibitions and organised info tours and conferences for tour operators.
In addition, the company, jointly with Kazakhstani travel firms, developed special tourist packages for visitors to Exhibition.
The packages included Expo 2017 and key attractions in Astana and Kazakhstan.
A new airport terminal was built in Astana, as part of the preparations for the Expo.
It made it possible to increase the capacity of the air harbor from three million to seven million passengers per year.
The removal of visa restrictions for a number of countries stimulated the inflow of tourists to Astana.
As a result, ten new international routes have been established since June, including ones by foreign carriers.
During the exhibition, from June 10th to September 10th, domestic air passenger traffic surged by 88 per cent and international air passenger traffic showed an increase of 30 per cent, compared to the same period in 2016.
During the exhibition, the capital of the country became the center of global interest and the attention of the whole world.
Demand for the services of Kazakhstan’s tour operators increased by 78 per cent, and the hotel occupancy tripled during Expo 2017.
BTN: What are the plans for the post-exhibition use of the Expo facilities?
YS: Just as the Eiffel Tower, built for the Expo in 1889, permanently changed the face of Paris, the exhibition complex for the Expo in Astana will continue to transform one of the youngest capitals in the world.
For example, on November 11th, two months after the end of the exhibition, the tourist complex at the Expo reopened.
The pavilion of Kazakhstan, the Nur Alem sphere, thematic pavilions, the Energy Best Practices Area, and the Art Center are again open for visitors.
The cultural heritage objects of the exhibition - the Hall of Energy concert hall and the Congress Center multifunctional complex have also been reopened.
Apart from that, educational and exhibition complexes, international technology park of IT start-ups, the International Center for the Development of Green Technologies and Investment Projects, under the aegis of the United Nations, and the office of the Astana International Financial Centre will open on the Expo grounds.
Kazakhstan is a unique because of its history, geography, and size.
The ninth largest country in the world and located in the centre of Eurasia, it is the largest landlocked destination on earth.
These factors have resulted in a particular climate and nature, which seems to absorb the brightest examples of the landscape of both Europe and Asia.
In addition, the complicated history of the Kazakh people and the constant interaction of nomadic lifestyles with settled people the ancient southern cities have led to a unique culture.
Find out more about visiting here.