While the residents and Government of Kazakhstan weren't impressed by their self-proclaimed ambassador Borat Sagdiyev, it seems the publicity he's generated has had an unexpected effect.
A new poll has revealed Kazakhstan is now a hot pick for travellers, all thanks to Borat. The former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan came 3rd in a list of European countries that tourists and gap-year students most want to visit.
Few people knew much about the central Asian republic, until Sacha Baron-Cohen (Ali G) made it famous in his UK TV appearances as Kazakhstani TV Reporter Borat... and most recently in his hit movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhstani Government were so concerned by Baron-Cohen's portrayal that they launched their own marketing campaign in the United States to coincide with the release of the movie. However, Borat simply went with the flow, claiming some of officials were actually imposters from evil neighbour Uzbekistan.
Borat held a media conference last September to announce, "Recent advertisements in television and in media about my nation of Kazakhstan saying that women are treated equally and that all religions are tolerated... These are disgusting fabrications.""There is a man named Roman Vassilenko, who is claiming to be the press secretary of Kazakhstan,"
Borat added. "Please, don't listen to him: he is a Uzbek impostor, and is currently being hunted by our agents."
It seems though that any publicity is good publicity, with the nation of Kazakhstan beating out more common tourist destinations like Spain and France. Italy and the UK topped the poll, carried out by website Travellers Connected.com.
spokesman Alastair Banks says last year Kazakhstan
got very few votes. "We understand that Kazakh president Nursaltan Nazarbayev thought that Borat had damaged the world’s perception of Kazakhstan. For the right reasons or wrong, it looks however that the film has really put the country on the map."
Because of the increase in demand from travellers, Airline Air Astana has recently added a third weekly flight from London to Almaty, Kazakhstan.* eMediaWire: Travellers Name Kazakhstan in Top Three European Countries They Most Want to Visit* Neweurasia.net: Thailand is so last year* Official Website for Borat Sagdiyev - "Kazakhstan's sixth most famous man"