18 July, 2013

Interview with Bagdat Duskinova, Director of Astana Best Travel

Here we are again with our Kazakh stories. The second place that we, rather a small journalistic delegation from Georgia, which was received cordially by the host country and its ministry of foreign affairs, was the office of Astana Best Travel. The fact that the director of this travel agency is a lady makes me think that the gender issues are not so topical in Central Asia. Mrs. Bagdat Duskinova expressed

her pleasure at our arrival.

Bagdat Duskinova: I am happy that you are here. I’ve always loved Georgia. I have heard a lot about your seashore towns Batumi, Gagra, etc. I would also like to note that in those days during the Soviet times, there were some foodstuffs like tea, chocolate, etc that were scarce in Kazakhstan and were more at hand in Georgia. My mother is a teacher and she used to tell me that Georgians are people with certain inner pride, a nation with honor – yes, honor is probably the most suitable word to describe you, - and highly intellectual individuals. We also know a lot about your people of art like Vakhtang Kikabidze, Zurab Tsereteli, Nani Bregvadze, Tamara Gverdtsitel and others.
G.J: Georgia is often described as an Eurasian country, i.e. the foreigners admit that the South Caucasus countries are a mix of Europe and Asia. Now, we are in Central Asia. In your opinion, what are the traits that we have in common?
B.D: I think these are our values: we are both tenacious of our traditions, also we are bound to our hearths, we as nations are both well aware of what it means to respect the elderly, etc. We also cherish guests and have special place in our house for them. I think this is one of the reasons why we are interested in your country. I can tell you that we are sending tourists to Georgia. They sometimes say that they do not need Turkey any more, even though it is very popular. You have good sea, - though sea is the sea of course, - but you also have very good mountains. For instance, a few days ago, we sent a group to Sairme (spa in Imereti region), where there are four curing springs, nice nature, etc. Of course, Georgia still needs further development as it has much more potential, but everything is ahead. How old is your Tbilisi?
G.J: Over 1500 years old.
B.D: Can you imagine? This is basically that attracts the foreigners – your antiquity, your religious monuments, traditions, nature. As for your cuisine, it is very remarkable too. I can tell you one story: when our partners arrived from India, they liked our food and everything, but what they really admired was that they had never before tasted Georgian food and had a chance to do so in the very center of Astana, at the Georgian restaurant. So, I am conveying hello from India! (She smiles).
G.J: Now it is the high tourist season in Georgia. Is it the same here?
B.D: Yes. July and August are the busiest months. We sell around 10 tours per day. Top destinations are Turkey, Europe and Emirates, also Malaysia and Thailand. The leading countries vary according to the seasons. Greece is also highly demanded; even more when we have charter flights now. In April and May Kazakhs like to visit Japan very much. The Czech Republic - Prague is in demand at any seasons. Most of our charters and flights are from Almaty (former capital city). Some people go to America as well, but those are mostly individual demands. Religious tours are becoming more and more popular. I would like to add about the importance of info tours. They are really important as it is better to see than hear and the word of mouth really works. Apart from other means of promotion, i.e. via magazines, newspapers and TV commercials, it is the best way to boost the number of foreign tourists.
According to the director of the Astana Best Travel, the number of people who wish to visit Georgia increases from year to year, which in her opinion, is caused by the fact that tourists like to get information; they prefer cultural tours more than mere rest. There is an interest for Georgia too; hopefully, this tendency will go on and we will see more and more tourists from Kazakhstan.


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