Extension of Kazakhstan’s visa free programme at World Travel Market, UK
Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s Skytrax award winning national carrier, returns to World Travel Market this week at London ExCel Centre, exhibiting alongside representatives from the country’s Ministry of Investment and Development, Tourism Department. Stand AS670.
It will be promoting a new direct route to Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar from Astana, which features good connections from London Heathrow and its European network. The route commences at the end of March 2016 with lead in return fares from London at £533. Tickets are available for booking on the Air Astana website www.airastana.com. And it has already attracted interest from several UK tour groups who are constantly on the lookout for somewhere a little different for their clients.
Ulaanbaatar is the cultural, industrial and financial heart of Mongolia where travellers can experience the country’s rich cultural heritage in the museums, palaces and monasteries such as Bogd Khan’s winter palace and Gandan monastery. Outside the city, the vast desert, picturesque steppe and rugged mountains offer a novel destination for travellers who like adventure. Camping, horse trekking and hiking are all on offer, complemented by country’s welcoming nomadic hospitality.
Visa free programme extended for UK, European travellers
Travel to Kazakhstan, meanwhile, has become even easier for overseas residents with the recent extension of the relaxation on Visa requirements for business and leisure travellers. Passengers from the UK and 19 other countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, USA and UAE can travel visa free until the end of 2017 for a period of up to 15 calendar days. The successful pilot programme was initially implemented for one year last July, covering an initial 10 countries.
“The extension to the relaxation on visa requirements and widening of the number of countries on the Air Astana route network represents an important milestone in the long term development of travel and tourism to Kazakhstan. Whilst it is not difficult to get a visa, it removes an inconvenience for passengers. This is good news for our passengers and good news for the airline.” commented Peter Foster, President and CEO, Air Astana.
Visa free admission will also be beneficial as Air Astana fulfils an important role as the Official Air Carrier of Expo 2017 which will be held in Astana during June to September. Passengers transiting through Astana Airport and arriving into the city with Air Astana will be offered complimentary tickets to the event.
EXPO 2017’s theme, “Future Energy,” will focus on eco-friendly energy, with exhibitors demonstrating the latest scientific and technical achievements as well as future developments in the utilization of renewable energy sources.
For Air Astana, a reduction of aircraft emissions is one of its highest priorities and a key driver in its recent decision to acquire a fleet of Airbus A320Neo family aircraft, whose new engine technology cuts emissions by 15%. Air Astana is anticipating the EXPO will provide a boost to inbound tourism with the event set to attract 100 countries and up to three million visitors domestically and all over the world.
Air Astana is the only airline to offer direct flights to Kazakhstan with its three times a week services from London Heathrow to Astana and seamless same aircraft connections on to Almaty, the country’s second largest city. They are good onward connections to Air Astana’s international route network too – to Central Asia, China and Asia.
Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, and BAE Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%.