KUALA LUMPUR: The Republic of Kazakhstan is looking at Malaysia for assistance and expertise in developing and standardising its halal food service industry.
Kazakh Tourism National Company JSC chairman of the board Kairat Sadvakassov said Malaysia is already at the forefront in terms of halal and Khazakstan would very much like to learn the halal aspect in food preparation and service.
"We are open to Malaysian halal companies and services to collaborate with Kazakhstan agencies, particularly the tourism-related to develop this sector," he told The New Straits Times in an interview recently.
"50 per cent of the people in Kazakhstan are Muslims however the penetration of halal is low. We have a few halal restaurants in major cities but when it comes to halal food preparation in hotels, its can be a bit tricky.
"We have to see ways on how to become Muslim-friendly. We have met with Islamic Tourism Centre of Malaysia recently to talk on various topics and training on halal. Yes, this is something on our radar," he said.
Touching on air connectivity, Kairat said Kazakh Tourism has been engaging with flag carrier Air Astana to increase visa-free travel frequency between Kuala Lumpur and Almaty from the current three times weekly flights to four.
"Similarly, we would like to engage with Malaysia Airlines to also introduce flight to Almaty but we are not sure what their interest is.
"We have meet with AirAsia in June this year, the second time after a first meeting with them last year, and we have also pitched the idea of introducing flights to Kazakhstan via their long haul business AirAsia X.
"We understand there are requirements in terms of ground handling, fuel pricing, fares, marketing and promotions and we are ready to work on these requirements with Malaysia Airlines or/and AirAsia if these is some sort of commitment," he said.
When asked on the plan to open a regional office in Malaysia in the first half of 2020, Kairat said the process is moving according to the set timeline.
The office here will be the hub to cater the Southeast Asian markets.
"We are looking at doubling the number of Malaysian tourist traveling to Kazakhstan from 7,500 last year and we will be organising to trips Kazakhstan to promote our winter tourism," he said.
At the recent Matta Fair 2019, Kazakh Tourism National Company JSC and Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), signed a memorandum of understanding to promote mutual interest and tourist arrivals between Malaysia and Kazakhstan via a cooperation and collaborative relationship.
The MoU was signed by Kairat and LADA chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Hezri Adnan.
Main highlight of the MoU is to establish bilateral assistance in promoting tourism products for Kazakhstan and Malaysian tourists, invitations to annual events including conferences, travel marts, and other ad hoc regional events and sharing of mutual tourism development planning strategy with particular regards to the development of infrastructure, analytics and other data.