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The New Silk Road: Bringing Tourism Opportunities to Central Asia

November 2018

Some of the major countries in Central Asia, such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are expected to benefit from trade, investment and tourism flows from both Asia and Europe, owing to their advantageous geographic position. Infrastructure and tourism developments in this part of the world , as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, will be vital to stimulate growth and bridge the gap with developed markets, and diversify local economies away from gas and oil.

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Key Findings

Good potential for Central Asia

Central Asia is a region which has been going through a transformation process, which it is hoped will improve the business environment and increase its attractiveness for foreign investment. Participation in different Belt and Road Initiative projects, whether in terms of infrastructure development, trade or logistics, will lead to diversification of these economies away from oil and gas, and the region can reap the benefits of its geographic position between East and West.

Growth opportunities for the airlines category

The airline category, which is only nascent in many of the countries in the region, is expected to show strong growth, especially after the removal of the blacklisting from the European Commission for local airlines to fly to Europe from such markets as Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, there are still significant barriers to entry, especially for international operators in terms of non-transparent pricing decisions by airports.

The importance of open skies agreements

Open skies agreements can help bring additional passengers and generate more revenues. They can also drive cheaper fares, open more routes across different regions, and lead the development of free market competition and increased tourism across Central Asia. Therefore, local governments must work more closely with the private sector to find long-term solutions to the development of infrastructure and of credit payment systems.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Macroeconomic Overview

Belt and road initiative: the mega project of the century
Major timelines and milestones
China driving the revival of the Silk Road
China and its impact on travel transportation in Central Asia
China: a force to be reckoned with
Chinese airlines can spur growth for Central Asia
Key BRI travel transportation projects in Central Asia
Regional performance
Contrasting performances
Strong reliance on e nergy e xports
Levels of c orruption still high
Improvements in the ease of doing b usiness
Inflation not under control
Mineral deposits drive economic growth
Renewable energy on the agenda
Dwindling foreign i nvestment
More needs to be done to improve business environment

Tourism Performance

Region wedged between East And West
Airlines leads travel transportation
Other transportation modes c hallenge the status quo
Driving the l ow-cost s egment in Azerbaijan
Significant international exposure for Azerbaijan
Potential for business travel to flourish in the region
E xpanding the luxury h otels s egment
Small markets but huge opportunities
Kazakhstan stands out
Dynamic performance in Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan: strong competitive advantage with the help of HSR
Case study: t he rising star
Good tactical moves to upstage the competition
Stopover programme for USD1
Case study: expansion and upgrades
The revival of SCAT Airlines

Major Takeaways

What the future holds
Transfer of knowledge and technology
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