The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Askar Mamin, has announced that the country plans to start construction of Turkestan-Tashkent high-speed rail line, which will strengthen the rail connection with Uzbekistan and will contribute to the development of tourism sector.
The announcement was made during a governmental meeting focused on the implementation of investment projects which will combat the COVID-19 pandemic effects. The President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also participated at the meeting.
This year Kazakhstan plans to invest KZT 1.1 trillion (USD 2.6 billion) to implement investment projects to develop ecotourism and national parks as promising tourist destinations.
Askar Mamin said that that “to increase the influx of tourists, the construction of a high-speed railway on the route Turkestan – Shymkent – Tashkent will be started.”
The project would create 22 thousand new jobs in the tourism industry with an increase of 50%, as well as 100 thousand new jobs in related sectors of the economy. According to the estimations, the domestic tourist flow will be about 4.5 million people, showing an increase of 22%. The share of tourism in GDP is expected to be increased to 5.2%.
The Turkestan-Tashkent high-speed rail will cross via Shymkent in south part of Kazakhstan which was recognized as a city of republican significance in 2018, by a Presidential decree. Shymkent is a major railway junction on the Turkestan – Siberia Railway route, connecting Central Asia with Siberia. Turkestan city is the administrative center of Turkestan Region of Kazakhstan and is situated near the Syr Darya river and 160 km north-west of Shymkent city.
In June 2019, during 18th meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Bilateral Cooperation between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan, the governor of Turkestan has announced the plans to build the high-speed railway connection to Uzbekistan, as a priority to unlock the tourism potential. As a result of the meeting, an agreement was signed to increase the investment cooperation considering the creation of joint industrial clusters, ensuring accelerated growth in commodity turnover, reconstruction of road and rail routes in order to increase freight and passenger traffic and develop tourism.