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Surge in Kazakh hotel searches thanks to Borat effect

LONDON - Holiday search engine Hotels.com claims it has experienced a 300% hike in searches for hotels based in Kazakhstan, thanks to the publicity generated at the box office by fictional Kazakh Borat.

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According to Hotels.com, the hitherto little-known country has earned itself a place on the tourist map thanks to the cinematic release of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan'. This is despite the fact that the film's fictional depiction of the country is far from flattering and none of the film's scenes were actually shot in the country.

"Sacha Baren Cohen's 'Borat' is Kazakh television's top media personality, and the film follows his journey to the US to create 'Borat's Guide to the USA'," the Hotels.com press release said, with no clear indication of irony. The Kazakh scenes were all shot in a poverty-stricken village in rural Romania.

Hotels.com represents Kazakhstan hotels including the Hyatt Regency Almaty, Best Eastern Otrar, Premier Alatau Hotel and the Best Eastern Ambassador Almaty. 

Hotels.com hopes that now that the country is in the spotlight, not in the least thanks to its vehement opposition to its portrayal in the film, it will increase the number of hotels on its books.

Alison Couper, Hotels.com's director of communications, said: "Following the surge of Kazakhstan hotel searches on Hotels.com since the film was released, we are looking to expanding our Kazakh hotel portfolio and expect bookings to increase considerably."

Earlier this month, it was reported that the former Soviet country is on the hunt for a PR agency to combat its portrayal in the film as a bigoted, racist and backward-looking country.

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