efe-epaLisbon

The mayor of Nur-Sultan, the newly-renamed capital of Kazakhstan, told a World Tourism Organization forum in Lisbon on Friday that he sees the "fresh start" given his city as a opportunity to turn it into a global tourist attraction.

"The development of tourism is very important for the diversification of our economy and we have all the potential to achieve it because we are the capital of one of the youngest nations in the world," Bakhyt Sultano, the mayor of the city formerly known as Astana, said.

Sultano was in the Portuguese capital to speak at a UNWTO forum centering on the growth of visitors to large cities and to sign an agreement for Nur-Sultan to host the organization's 8th Global Summit on Urban Tourism in October.

The city's youthfulness "is the message we hope to convey to millions of tourists in the world," Sultano said.

He said the UNWTO event in Lisbon was educational, allowing him to "share opinions, experiences and new points of collaboration with our colleagues and international partners."

But he also recalled that Astana, and now Nur-Sultan, has "proven to be capable of hosting large international events," such as the international exhibition Expo 2017 and the Syrian peace talks known as the Astana Process.

The October summit comes at a time when the Kazakh capital "is growing actively as a financial and business hub" and now seeks to grow in tourism by offering "unique nature" and a modern city with an attractive location, Sultanov said.

"We are at the same distance from Europe and Asia, we even joke that we are the umbilical cord of the world," he said.

cdb/pfm/jrh