Tourism entered the plans of the government in the yearly years of independence. Now the industry is given a special attention in the long-run aspect of 2007 – 2011. During this time the tourist infrastructure should have served 4,5 million people. Comparing to the figures of the previous years, this one is not big. According to the statistics, about one million people use the services of Kazakhstan’s tour agencies every year. Another thing is important – systematization of the objects of the tourist infrastructure will be carried out. Currently the government doesn’t have complete information on their quantity and quality of their services.
Foreign countries are no longer something completely exotic for the people in post-Soviet republics. Kazakhstan’s citizens are among the leaders of tourists. The local tourist agencies state that the number of tourists grows every year. This tendency emerged in 2002 and not it became stronger. It applies to all types of tourism, from economic to social. However, medicinal tourism deserves a separate attention. This type of tourism we re going to discuss in this article. Now many people can afford a treatment on foreign health resorts. The destinations vary depending on the goals. Europe, especially Germany, Italy and Switzerland receive seriously ill people. People from Kazakhstan also go there for giving birth, treat and arrange dentures, get rid of stones in kidneys and acquire a desired figure. Israel is also known for its variety of medical services, as well as for the high quality of the services. The general opinion in the public that our local resorts don’t have either of the two features. Gulgaysha Kasenkhanova, Director of tourist company “Turan-Asia”: “It is commonly understood that the level of medicine is higher in Europe than in our country. Even the equipment is more modern there. Our experience proves it. Sometimes Kazakhstan’s specialists don’t undertake the responsibility of serious operations for some reasons, and the patients contact us; we find them an appropriate place abroad to carry out the required operation. Of course, sometimes the prices are astronomical. Recently we have sent an old lady for arranging denture to Switzerland. Kazakhstan’s dentists refused to take her because of diabetes and parodontosis. And the dentists abroad have done their job without any problem.” When clients choose high quality of medical attention, the price is not usually highlighted with a bold text. Such clients are ready to pay for the services. “Turan-Asia” provides its clients with the full range of services from translating the diagnosis to a foreign language and sending the documents to the clinics to the final examination and treatment. And, of course, the company arranges the visa issuance, tickets and accommodation. However, the company doesn’t specialize only of medicinal tourism. It is a multi-directional firm, one of the largest in Kazakhstan. According to the Kazakhstan’s Tourism Association, there are no companies in Kazakhstan that specialize only on medicinal tourism. Rashida Shaykenova, Executive director of Kazakhstan’s Tourism Association: “The question of statistics is the most complicated for us. Now it is impossible to clearly divide the companies by their specialization. Due to high competition (there are 900 tourist firms in Kazakhstan, including 600 in Almaty, while the requirements of the city is 150 firms) the firms have to follow all the changes of the market. If one direction becomes popular, for example, beach tourism, they work in this direction. The firms also arrange education, recreation and treatment abroad. There are no tourist companies in Kazakhstan that would be completely specialized.” The medicinal tourism, which is not related to serious diseases, is also popular. For example, such trips to India and China are fashionable among Kazakhstani citizens. Turkey, which was previously the leader of such tourism, has recently lost its position. The beach tourism with its inactive time over a chaise longue became boring to the people. They want to spend time in resorts with piquant touch. This is the time for India’s solo. Ayurveda is the oldest medicinal system in the word, with its roots going to ancient Indian Himalayan medicine. It has been used for centuries for cleansing the reviving the body as well as for fighting the serious diseases that the traditional medicine cannot cope with. Such information can be easily found on the Internet. The tourist companies, working with India, gladly inform about the history. Gulgaysha Kasenkhanova, Director of tourist company “Turan-Asia”: “I haven’t seen that people with broken limbs throwing away their crutches in Kerala. But I can assure you that using the methods of Ayurveda, people can restore their strength after daily stress.” Many traveling people now that Kerala is the most Southern region of India, the home of Ayurveda. That’s where people can undergo the treatment in its original form. The treatment is based on using herbs, ether oils, special diet, massage and physical therapy. Although India is a peculiar country, and not all tourists from Kazakhstan come back satisfied, it is becoming more popular as a tourism destination and is alongside with China. Now China attracts our citizens not only by its shopping opportunities, but also with its medical services. One of the reasons is a relatively low price. When the quality of the service is of the same level, the price plays an important role. People from Kazakhstan go to China for mainly cosmeticians’ services. Gulgaysha Kasenkhanova, Director of tourist company “Turan-Asia”: “We work on many destinations – Europe, USA, East Asia. About 90% of the orders are on tourism to foreign countries. Of course, we’d be glad to attract more tourists to Kazakhstan. We know mony good resorts in Kazakhstan and could cooperate. However, they don’t always agree to cooperate. They prefer to work directly with the clients. They only need our help during the time between the seasons. Besides, local resorts sometimes let us down, for example, they can sell out the reserved places. That’s why it’s easier to work with foreign companies.” Of course, there are many resorts and similar entities in Kazakhstan. Many of them work 24 hours a day. Many of them have a good reputation, although it comes from the Soviet times. They have unique mineral and mud springs. However, few of them meet the international standards when receiving the clients. They are the resort in Shuchinsko-Borovskaya resort zone, several medicinal entities in Almaty oblast and Eastern Kazakhstan oblast, and “Sary-Agash”, “Blue gulf”, “Rakhmanov springs”. On the latter ones people are treated from the diseases of lungs, gastrointestinal tract, musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular system, skin, etc. People in the Ministry of tourism and sport are sure that Kazakhstan must develop its medicinal tourism. The country so many springs and water useful for people’s recreation, and at least some of them should be turned into recreation areas. The systematization of the objects should become the start of the revival of the industry. Yevgeny Nikitinsky, Head of the Apparatus of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan: “It is hardly worth talking about the level of quality of the services of local resorts. First, we need to count the objects and monitor their activity. This is a big job, and we have already started it. We have contacted the Ministry of Healthcare, which controls most of the resorts. The information we need is the list of the objects and their services. This information should become available to the tourist firms. We must consolidate our efforts. We will achieve the desired result – maximum coverage of our population and foreign tourists by the resorts – will bring only the joint work of the Ministry of Healthcare, Ministry of Tourism and Sport and the resorts. They are the most interested party.” During the early years of independence the topic of developing the medicinal tourism wasn’t important; now the industry rapidly acquires popularity. With the economic development, people can now afford using these services. Currently they go to the well known foreign places. Our country only plans to develop this business. For the time being, we can only observe and collect the remains. Statistical data is presented by Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Republic of Kazakhstan.