Once again, our young capital had the honor to act as an international platform for considering and resolving global issues. Having become an affiliate member of the UN World Tourism Organization (hereinafter referred to as the UNWTO) in May last year, Nur-Sultan opened its doors for the 8th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism ‘Smart Cities, Smart Destinations’ (hereinafter referred to as the Summit), which took place from October 9-12, 2019. The event was organized by the UNWTO, the Mayor’s Office of the city of Nur-Sultan and Astana Convention Bureau.
The main topic of the conference was to discuss the development of urban tourism by realizing its socio-economic potential in accordance with the UN New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Today in the context of global urbanization, cities have become a platform for innovation, and the sustainable use of urban governance is one of the priority goals of the entire world community.
The event was attended by over 1,200 delegates from 80 countries. The official opening ceremony was held by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Askar Mamin, the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, and the mayor of Nur-Sultan, Altay Kulginov. Also panel sessions were attended by representatives of foreign companies such as Niantic, Timelooper, Group NAO, MasterCard and others; local authorities, international organizations, associations, non-governmental and leading scientific organizations of Kazakhstan, countries near and far abroad, private entrepreneurs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as representatives of local and foreign media.
The ways of flexible urban management and the introduction of innovative technologies in urban infrastructure were discussed during the Summit. Particular attention was paid to tourism and its possibilities for improving the lives and living conditions of residents and visitors to cities. In addition, panel sessions, working group meetings, and high-level meetings were held to discuss tourism development, as well as socio-economic problems such as unemployment, migration, and urban security.
Mayor of Nur-Sultan Altay Kulginov noted a significant potential in mutually beneficial cooperation for solving urgent issues of tourism development at the international level, in connection with this, a number of documents were signed at the Summit. At bilateral meetings at the level of city leaders, two memorandums to expand and strengthen bilateral relations with the cities of Kazan and Tashkent; interaction plan and cooperation program 2020-2024 with the capital of Turkey – Ankara were signed. And finally, an agreement on cooperation and on the establishment of twinning relations was signed between the capital of Mongolia - the city of Ulaanbaatar and the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan - the city of Nur-Sultan.
At the invitation of the Mayor, Kevin Murphy, Sales Director of Kraftwerk Living Technologies GmbH, visited our city. The company “Kraftwerk Living Technologies GmbH” is a developer of audiovisual systems of the world's most popular attractions in the cities of Moscow, Russia - “Zaryadye” park, “Flight over Moscow” attraction; Changsha, China - “Beautiful Huna”; Roots, Germany - Europa-Park “Voletarium: Flying Theater Attraction”; Dubai, UAE - Bollywood Parks, “Krrish Hero's Flight” and others. Following the results of the events, an agreement on the intention to implement the project “Flight over the capital” in Nur-Sultan was signed. Moreover, the coordination of efforts to use the Mastercard Tourism Insights platform as part of the digitalization of the tourism industry and improving statistical reporting was agreed with the head of Mastercard in Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia Nina Willems.
Within the framework of the Summit, the Nur-Sultan declaration on smart cities and smart destinations was adopted. This declaration is an agreement of the participating countries on the promotion of the use of technology in the development of tourism, as well as in the joint development of models for managing urban tourism and accessible urban sites.
The 8th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism has a positive effect on the image of the city of Nur-Sultan. The capital has once again proved itself to be the cultural and business center of Kazakhstan and Central Asia, where world declarations are signed, high-level meetings are held, and new ambitious projects are created. In addition, external profit appeared which is inextricably linked with the growth of the country's economic well-being.
Foreign guests also learned a lot from the event. In addition to the main conference program, the Summit included a master class on events organized by the International Congresses and Conferences Associations (ICCA), a panel session on medical tourism and a meeting of UNWTO affiliated members with representatives of the private sector of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Moreover, they had an opportunity to get acquainted with the Kazakh historical and cultural past, thanks to a visit to the National Museum, Opera and Ballet Theater, Baiterek; had an opportunity to try the Kazakh national cuisine and admire the natural wealth of "Kazakhstani Switzerland" - the Burabay resort.
As a result of the UNWTO Global Summit, Nur-Sultan has been established as a potential tourist destination and as a platform for international cooperation. We hope that events of this kind will increase not only international participation in the face of an increase in the influx of tourists to our country but will also contribute to closer cooperation between industry stakeholders in attracting and holding international events.
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All photos from the Summit are available on the company page: https://www.facebook.com/astanaconventionbureau/