Kazakhstan has introduced visa-free travel for all EU and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries for up to 30 days.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry has also simplified visa rules for a further 48 countries – the number of visa categories will be decreased from fourteen to three.

The move is designed to “promote a more favourable investment climate” for business and leisure travel.

This is particularly significant ahead of the upcoming Expo 2017, which Kazakhstan is playing host to this year. The major annual international exposition will be held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, from June 10 to September 10 – the first time a former Soviet Union capital has been the host nation for such an event. Kazakhstan has been investing heavily in large-scale development projects for the Expo, including developing the 174-hectare Astana Expo City 2017 along with a ten-storey orb that will form the centre of the trade show.

Up until now, visitors had to pay £35 (US$42.8) for a single-entry tourist visa, complete a visa application form, have hotel booking confirmations, and a letter addressed to the consular section of the Kazakhstan embassy.

The visa-free travel is for: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE and US.