Kazakhstan Thanks “Borat” for the Tourist Boom

The comedy was banned in the country on its release in 2006

Kazakhstan wasn't exactly pleased when "Borat" came out six years ago — but now, with an influx of tourists the central Asian nation with which credits the comedy, it's changed its tune.

"I am grateful to Borat, the main character of the movie, for tourists’ keen interest in Kazakhstan," the country's Foreign Minister Erzhan Kazykhanov said Monday before the lower house of parliament, Kazakh news site Tengri News reported.

Kazykhanov said tourist visas to the country are up tenfold in the six years since the release of the hit comedy, much of whose humor comes from its vision of Kazakhstan as a prostitute-laden backwater.

That's a silver lining for the former Soviet republic in the saga of its reaction to the film, initially banned in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But "Borat" (full title: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan") has given the country its share of headaches, in addition to the new tourism boost.

Last month, a Kazakh shooting champion and sports event organizers in Kuwait were embarassed when the spoof national anthem from "Borat" was accidentally played at a gold medal ceremony instead of the country's real one.

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