PHUKET: On March 13, 2019, Phuket Governor K. Pakapong Taweewat, with the help of several officials, welcomed Mr. Batalov Amandyk Gabbasovich, the Governor of Almaty, Kazakhstan, at the Phuket Provincial Hall, in Phuket Town to discuss the relationship between the two cities in hoping to make them sister cities, also known as twin towns.

Phuket Governor said after the meeting that the Almaty Governor brought along hotel and tourism entrepreneurs as well.

“There are currently 14 sister cities with Phuket and after this meeting, if there is no upcoming issue, Almaty will be the 15th. Kazakhstan has opened the country and is strongly encouraging its tourism industry. There is also a large number of Kazakhstani working and investing in Phuket. This visit is a great opportunity to exchange our culture as well as to discuss investment opportunities between the two provinces. The process now is to assign an honorary consul of Almaty, Kazakhstan, which will be the 26th honorary consul from different countries in Phuket,” said the Governor.

“Almaty doesn’t have access to the sea but has mountains and lakes with 4 seasons including winter. Phuket beaches are popular among Kazakhstanis and should I have a chance to visit Kazakhstan, I will certainly encourage tourism in Almaty as well.”

He said that according to statistics, there are currently 60,000 to 70,000 Kazakhstanis traveling in Thailand and Phuket while the number of Thai travelers to Kazakhstan is not significant, so the Almaty Governor expects that there will be an increasing number of tourists from Thailand and Phuket once the Memorandum of Understanding between the two cities is signed. If there is no change in the MOU draft, the MOU will be signed within three to six month.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Almaty, Mr. Batalov Amandyk Gabbasovich thanked Phuket for the warm welcome. He explained that Almaty is an outstanding province in Kazakhstan with 2 million inhabitants and is a connecting hub between both Asia and Europe.

Currently, the President of Kazakhstan has the policy to develop tourism in Almaty as it has several historical tourism attractions as well as natural attractions, such as beautiful lakes.

“I am glad to have visited Phuket and learned that it already has several sister cities. I believe that when the agreement is signed, the relationship between the two provinces will be even stronger,” he said.

The Almaty Governor also invited Phuket officials to visit Almaty to exchange about culture, tourism and investment opportunities. The delegation also gifted the traditional Almaty costume to Phuket Governor, explaining that the costume shows the highest respect to the receiver from Almaty while Phuket Governor granted pearls in return as it is the symbol of Phuket.