text: Anna Kodatskaya , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
The VI tourist fair "Issyk-Kul-2004" took place last week-end on Issyk-Kul shores. More than 400 organisations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, and other countries, working in the tourist business, have concluded agreements between them for the forthcoming summer season.
What awaits us on Issyk-Kul this year?
Kyrgyzs are going to attract more than 65 million USD of investments into tourism this year. Just to compare: last year the volume of foreign investments was around 15 million, in 2002 - a little more than 14 million.
Our neighbours have some grandiose plans for their national pearl. And their prices are unreal, given that worthy service is simply absent there….
In total 120 recreation centres have been constructed on the shore. 10 of them belong to the state, 80 have been privatised, they are the property of different JSC or individuals, 6 belong to Kazakhstan, 4 - to Uzbekistan, 1 - to Russia, and South Koreans got 3 of them.
Private sanatoriums are much better than those belonging to the state. Good overhaul was made there, basins, billiard halls built up, all sorts of water entertainments are present on the beaches.
A year ago 84 vacation centres were receiving tourists. The remaining 36 failed during sanitary inspections or they were simply not ready for the season opening. Malik Mambetov, chief state sanitary doctor of Issyk-Kul region, says that sanatoriums have to comply with around 50 sanitary requirements, which must provide secure rest to the tourists.
Besides, doctors try potable and lake water for the subject of infections, they test the beach sand, toilets, cesspool facilities. Before the beginning of the season an epidemiologist, communal hygienist, and food hygienist personally inspect the sanatoriums and give or don't give permissions for the opening of a recreation centre...
At least ideally all has to be as the official said. But as he declined from talking openly about, say, bribes for the permits, one should be aware that the truth will be revealed only upon arrival to the place. But even before the arrival to Issyk-Kul it can be maintained that the general epidemiological situation is complicated in a manner of speaking.
How much it costs to spend a night there
It is already well-known that the sanatoriums that will receive visitors this year will surprise tourists with their prices. They have already skyrocketed, completely artificially. A night at the top of the season in the sanatorium "Kyrgyz Seaside" will be more expensive than a night in a 5-star hotel in Bodrum, Turkey.
Already now a night in a medium class Issyk-Kul hotel costs 30-50 USD per person and from mid-July to mid-August the prices will hit 50-80 bucks!
This amount includes a stay in a room, three meals, shower, cable TV, medical services, and security guarantees. But then you are likely to wish to play billiard, go water skiing, eat some kebab, which implies additional costs. Staying in elite cottages in the height of the season will cost 500 USD for 4 persons per day. Only for staying I should stress. You will pay separately for food.
For the same money you will be OK on Turkish, Egyptian, Greek… whatever other resorts.
It is Kazakhstani people themselves that are to blame for that, Kyrgyz officials say. Sanatorium workers say that rich Almaty or Astana residents come there and make all sorts of finger gestures saying: "I don't care for money, gimme some super-luxury". That's why separate cottages for VIP appeared in some sanatoriums and even small private zones for 20-25 beds.
- Famous people stay here with their friends or mistresses, - a private sanatorium owner says. - Sometimes they pay up to 700 USD per day. They pay for confidentiality.
Yes, we have spoiled Kyrgyzs. As a rule, our fellow citizens come to resorts with big money (at least for locals). That's where the unreal prices of today come from.
According to the region authorities around 70 per cent of Issyk-Kul visitors come from Kazakhstan. 10 per cent of tourists are Russians and Far Abroad residents. The rest are representatives of the local population.
A reasonable question arises, what do we pay such money for? For terrible roads on both Kazakh and Kyrgyz sides? For the low level of service? For the European style rooms that by no means are worth the paid money?
What's absurd is that the owners of recreation centres understand everything, but they don't have a right to employ professionals. They are obliged to give jobs to the unemployed rural folks, who have never heard about such things as the hotel service or tourist industry...
Kyrgyz authorities openly speak about the bad work of Kyrgyz personnel, but they don't take any measures. That's how they explain it: 90 per cent of Issyk-Kul sanatoriums work only during two months a year and their management does not have an opportunity to employ and train permanent personnel, therefore they take people from the street. But let's agree - us, tourists are not any better-off because of that.
After each 1.5-2 kilometres of the Kyrgyz bad roads there are road police officers. They follow some iron logic: you've got Almaty number plate, then you have money and you should pay a fine. And it absolutely doesn't matter if you broke the rules or not. Of course nobody will give you a check for the paid fine.
In a word, everybody, who's going to go travel to Issyk-Kul on their own cars is advised that the road police is only a half of all troubles, the road to the lake has not become any better. As years before it is a mess. There have been patches laid somewhere, but not more…
Also in the "In Depth"
09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan