Central Asian countries move to relax visa rules
Adventure travel trips to central Asian states have seen a surge in popularity in recent times, with countries such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan welcoming a growing number of tourists each year.
And now plans are underway among a number of countries in the region to make themselves more accessible to foreign visitors by relaxing visa rules.
The Moscow Times reports that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all have plans to liberalise their visa requirements this summer, marking a growing trend among former Soviet states in central Asia.
Citing local media outlets, the newspaper reports that the Kyrgyz parliament approved a bill on Thursday (June 14th) that would unilaterally scrap visas for citizens of 44 countries, including the UK, almost all European countries and the United States, for stays up to 90 days.
Until now, Kyrgyzstan has allowed most foreign visitors to buy a visa on arrival, with fees starting at $40 for a 15-day stay.
Kazakhstan has also mooted the scrapping of visas for tourists who are citizens of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, which includes most EU countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev confirmed last month that the Kazakh Foreign Ministry is currently considering the proposals.
"In order to support the development of tourism, this question is being considered," the Moscow Times quotes him as telling the Bnews.kz news site.
Meanwhile, Tajikistan's parliament last month approved a bill that would permit visa-free visits by citizens of the US and EU, as well as those of some south-east Asian countries.
The nature of an overland adventure, where groups often visit numerous countries, means it is vital those going on such trips check the visa requirements of the countries they will travel through before they leave.
National embassies and websites such as that of the UK Foreign Office are good places to visit to find advice on visa requirements for different states.