Kazakhstan has adopted Borat’s “very nice!” catchphrase in a bid to boost tourism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Sacha Baron Cohen’s first film about the fictional journalist was released in 2006, the character’s home country was less than impressed by the portrayal of the nation.
Authorities banned the film and threatened to sue the comedian after his depiction of Kazakhstan as misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic.
But following the recent release of the sequel – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – the country’s tourism board looks to have embraced the attention the films bring.
In its new video campaign, people are seen enjoying the offerings the country has to offer, and saying “very nice!”.
Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said in a statement: “Kazakhstan’s nature is very nice. Its food is very nice. And its people, despite Borat’s jokes to the contrary, are some of the nicest in the world.
“We would like everyone to come experience Kazakhstan for themselves by visiting our country in 2021 and beyond, so that they can see that Borat’s homeland is nicer than they may have heard.”
Bordered by Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China, and the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world by land mass.
Speaking to The New York Times, Mr Sadvakassov said: “In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media.
“Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there. We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here.”
Cohen said in an email to the newspaper: “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country.
“I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the US knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world.
“The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society – the opposite of Borat’s version.”