By: Information Agency “Dunyo”
Or: Press-service of the Embassy of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a country where representatives of various nationalities, religious denominations and cultures live. This is a region whose rich historical heritage harmoniously coexists with modern architecture and high-tech development. There are high mountains, hot deserts, endless lakes, wonderful valleys and gardens.
Undoubtedly, the tourist and recreational potential that Uzbekistan has is huge. These are over 7 thousand objects of cultural heritage, more than 200 of which are located in four museum cities – Khiva, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Samarkand. All of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition, in the country there are 8 nature reserves, 2 natural and 1 national park, 6 natural monuments, 11 nature reserves, more than 50 water protection zones, which are also attractive tourist sites.
That is why great attention is paid to the development of tourism. In particular, Decrees and Resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan gave the status of the strategic sector of the national economy to the tourism sector. In the future, it is designed to solve such important socio-economic problems as creating new jobs, diversifying the economy and accelerating the development of regions, increasing foreign exchange earnings, improving the welfare of the population, and improving investment attractiveness and image.
In order to radically increase the effectiveness of reforms in this direction, in January 2019, the Concept for the Development of the Tourism Sphere in Uzbekistan in 2019-2025 was approved.
As part of the implementation of the concept, as well as in order to create amenities for incoming foreign tourists, visa and registration processes have been radically simplified. Currently, for tourists from 65 countries a visa-free regime has been introduced for a period of 30 days, an electronic visa issuing system is in place for citizens of 77 countries. In addition, for certain groups of foreign citizens such types of visas have been introduced as investment, student, academic, pilgrimage and medical.
Simplified the procedure for temporary registration of foreign citizens on the territory of the republic, which is fully translated into electronic format E-mehmon. This system provides the right to register foreign citizens with accommodation facilities and medical institutions, travel agencies, owners of private apartments, guest houses, as well as foreign citizens traveling independently through the Internet and mobile applications.
Along with traditional cultural and historical tourism, such new types of tourism as pilgrimage, ecology, cognitive, ethnographic, gastronomic, sports, health-improving, rural, industrial, business and other types of tourism are successfully developing.
To stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the tourism industry, tax and customs incentives have been established for the construction and organization of hotel facilities, theme parks, when importing tourist-class vehicles and others. There are more than 20 benefits and preferences in this direction.
In addition, in order to attract foreign investors to the industry, public-private partnership mechanisms are being adopted that stimulate the contribution of investments to the development of tourism infrastructure facilities.
The attention of potential foreign tourists is attracted by the cultural events held in the country, which introduce the history and traditions of the Uzbek people, their original culture, crafts and art. Among such events, the traditional festival “Silk and Spices”, held in Bukhara, the international music festival “Sharq Taronalari”, organized in Samarkand. Such international events as the International Poppy Art Forum in Shakhrisabz, the Ziyorat Tourism Forum in Bukhara, the “Athletes Games” sports competition in Khiva, the Electronic Music Festival in Tashkent, the CIS Tourism Fair in Samarkand and others are very popular.
The fact that Uzbekistan is becoming an increasingly popular destination for travel lovers is also indicated by figures. So, according to the results of 2018, the number of foreign tourists arriving in the republic doubled – from 2.6 to 5.3 million people. In the first half of 2019, the number of tourists exceeded 3 million people, which is 31 percent more than the similar statistics in 2018.
In addition, measures taken to support and protect the private sector contributed to an increase in the number of tourism organizations from 749 in 2017 to 1,000 in 2018. To date, their number has reached 1.3 thousand.
Tourist infrastructure facilities are also developing rapidly. In the first half of the year alone, more than 100 hotels with a capacity of about 1.7 thousand units were created. By the end of the year, it is expected to commission about 140 new hotels with a capacity of 7 thousand units, which will allow to increase the number of rooms by 37 percent.
Transport and logistics services have also risen to a qualitatively new level. Due to the large-scale work on the construction and reconstruction of transport infrastructure in Uzbekistan, 11 airports have received the status of international air harbors. Rail transport is developing, through which travelers visiting Uzbekistan have the opportunity in comfortable conditions to reach the tourist centers of the country. So, in addition to regular and high-speed trains, high-speed Afrosiab trains run daily between Tashkent, Samarkand and Karshi, which have significantly improved the quality of guest service and reduced travel time.