Domestic tourism: where Kazakh people go on vacation during quarantine?

Domestic tourism: where Kazakh people go on vacation during quarantine?

Pink Lake Kobeituz and the beaches of Aktau are closed to visitors, and soon the resort areas of Akmola region will also be closed for quarantine. Kazakh residents, who previously lost the opportunity for overseas vacation, are now completely left without much options to choose. Our team tried to find out firsthand where people in Kazakhstan can go on vacation this summer and how safe the local resorts are, whether their staff comply with sanitary standards, and how the tourists there behave themselves.

If Burabai, then away from people

Initially, the phrase seems absurd, because currently there is a sharp influx of tourists in Burabai. Entry there will be prohibited starting tomorrow, July 24. Therefore, on the last days while the resort area is still open to visitors, there is no room to swing a cat – it is almost impossible to avoid crowded places there. However, a resident of Nur-Sultan Inessa is ready to argue this statement. Together with her family, they are spending their vacation on the southwestern side of Lake Schuchye. She said that there are not so many tourists there and they seem to understand that masks, antiseptics and social distancing today are the essential attributes for a safe vacation.

“It is not as crowded as in Burabai, for example. Sanitizers are everywhere and everyone is wearing masks and maintains physical distance. Majority came with their families, so people spend their vacation separately, only with family,” Inessa said.

Hotels in other parts of the Burabai resort area have been fully packed in recent days. People from different regions of the country come there for beautiful nature and long-awaited rest after long period of self-isolation. Inessa said that the entrepreneurs did not rise prices despite the increased influx of tourists.

The price from 8,000 tenge (US$19) offers quite fine conditions that include food and accommodation. As for leisure, I saw people take a boat riding. But, mainly, it is all about nature. Some hotels have good terraces and a beautiful view from there,” Inessa shared.

Aktau public beaches closed to visitors

Water parks and beaches will be closed to visitors during the quarantine. In accordance with the decree of the chief sanitary officer of Mangystau region, checkpoints and ban tapes were installed on five sections of the Aktau embankment. However, these measures are unlikely to stop those who want to take a walk by the sea. City residents and tourists are allowed spending time at the coastal area. Alexa Shev has visited the resort town. In an interview to Kazakh TV she said that looking at tourists, there is a feeling like that there was no quarantine at all and the virus itself does not exist.

“Unfortunately, absolutely nobody cares about the sanitary norms in Aktau, not only in hotels, but everywhere. I did not see any sanitizers installed at recreation centers, shops, supermarkets or swimming pools. No one follows the sanitary norms,” Shev noted.

She added that there is no big influx of tourists in Aktau and that it would be fair to say that spending time on beaches was safe until they were closed. People there complied with the social distancing rules. However, the restaurants were usually fully packed and masks rule was not observed everywhere.

Twice as less visitors on Lake Alakol

Lake Alakol resort has received more than 200,000 tourists since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say that this figure is two times less than that of the same period of last year. Local people account the decline of the tourist influx to the current global pandemic. Meantime, the growth in the number of tourists has been observed on the eastern coast of the lake Alakol since this week. A resident of Nur-Sultan Aigul Sagandykova is currently in the Alakol resort area on vacation. She spoke about her time on the coast of the lake and whether it is worth going there.

“There are many people here. The waiters are wearing masks, but tourists are not. It is exceedingly rare to meet people with a personal protective equipment there. Prices in Alakol are affordable. There are rooms from 5,000 tenge (US$12) per day. There are water parks, a Ferris wheel, water scooters, banana boats, catamarans, and the Arbat where everyone takes a stroll, one might say, in crowds,” Sagandykova said.

Kazakh residents continue to actively spend their vacation in local resort areas. Neither quarantine, nor strict rules stop people from traveling there. Travel companies had to reorient themselves to domestic tourism due to the current pandemic, and the demand for local resorts has grown sharply. Currently, resort areas in Alakol and the Caspian Sea are the top destinations. Meantime, experts recommend refraining from traveling during quarantine, and if going on vacation, to follow safety measures, which, unfortunately, many forget to do.