Diversification is the key to economic stability. Therefore, large-scale activity is being carried out in Uzbekistan on the structural transformation of the economy. In particular, the tourism industry has been identified as one of the drivers, and the necessary conditions are being created for its development.
For example, the issuance of visas to tourists was simplified, queues and unnecessary checks at airports were eliminated, green corridors were created, and currency exchange was liberalized. The rates of social tax and turnover tax for tourism enterprises are set at 1 percent, the rates of land tax and property tax are reduced by 90 percent. The number of placements increased 3 times compared to 2017 and reached 125,000. A system of electronic registration of guests is created.
This year, tourism is recovering from the pandemic. By September this year, the number of foreign tourists who visited Uzbekistan has tripled compared to 2021. Since the beginning of the year, the volume of tourist exports amounted to $926 million. The length of stay of foreign tourists has increased to an average of 4-5 days, and their spending – up to $305.
The number of domestic tourists also increased – 3.5 times compared to last year – and reached 7.5 million people.
The President pays special attention to this area, because 30 percent of the industry’s income goes to people in the form of wages. In industry or other sectors, this figure does not exceed 10 percent. One job created in tourism creates two additional jobs in related industries. That is, tourism is an important resource for providing employment, increasing income and exporting services.
The state of tourism in the regions was considered at the meeting. Huge opportunities for this and tasks for their use were shown.
As is known, on the initiative of the Head of the state, the International Tourist Center “The Great Silk Road” was established in Samarkand. Recently, it hosted the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a high organizational level. This multifunctional center includes 8 modern hotels, a congress center, the Eternal City complex, an amphitheater and many other facilities. It is capable of serving 2 million tourists a year.
The Head of the state gave instructions on attracting tourists to this complex, promoting the brand “Samarkand – Tourism Gateway of New Uzbekistan” in cooperation with embassies and foreign companies.
The Ministry of Transport was given a task to effectively use the capabilities of the modernized Samarkand International Airport, remove restrictions on flights of foreign airlines, and increase the number of international flights.
At the meeting held on 26 April this year, measures were defined to increase the volume of tourism services in cities and districts, to allocate 1 trillion UZS of credit resources for industry projects. Analyzing the fulfillment of these tasks, the Head of the state pointed out the insufficiency of tourist places in the regions and the financing of entrepreneurs’ projects.
The Hokim of Fergana region reported on the activities of the creation of the tourist ring “Golden Valley”, covering 5 districts and 3 cities. The President emphasized the need for implementing similar projects in other regions, providing financial and organizational support to their initiators.
Opportunities for creating tourist zones in safe areas near water bodies and on forest fund lands were also noted. Proposals were put forward for the development of safari tourism in the steppe regions of Karakalpakstan, Bukhara, Kashkadarya, Navoi, Surkhandarya, Fergana and Khorezm regions.
Another promising direction is pilgrimage tourism. There are more than 1.2 thousand shrines in Uzbekistan. It was noted that by fully using this opportunity, it would be possible to attract at least 1 million tourists a year.
Instructions were given to increase flights from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Arab countries, train qualified guides, improve conditions and roads in places of pilgrimage.
In Uzbekistan, 135 mahallas are defined as tourist mahallas. The issue of infrastructure is very important since most of them are located in remote areas.
Therefore, the President instructed to develop a program to solve problems with roads, electricity and water supply, Internet access in tourist mahallas.
Road infrastructure is essential for travel. But over time, the number of cars increases. For example, five years ago, 25,000 cars passed along the Tashkent – Samarkand route, and today this figure has reached 35,000. Accordingly, the travel time has also increased.
In this regard, the need for increasing the frequency of rail and air communication between the cities of the country was noted.
The President focused on the issues of expanding amenities for tourists and simplifying the rules for the activities of industrial entities.
For example, today there are 97 requirements for opening a hotel. Taking into account the opinions of entrepreneurs, the task was set to simplify these requirements based on international standards.
There are inconveniences in the order of registration of tourists in the internal affairs bodies. In particular, a foreign tourist must be temporarily registered by the hotel within 2 days, and in the case of staying with relatives – within 3 days.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs was instructed to review this system and lift excessive restrictions. Online notification will be used instead of temporary registration of foreign tourists.
It is also planned to cancel the requirement for licensing the activities of travel agents with the introduction of a notification procedure. This will create an opportunity for the emergence of thousands more travel agents.
“Tourism means investment, exports, new jobs and poverty reduction. Therefore, it is necessary to pay serious attention to this direction in each region and attract more tourists”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
It was noted that there are all opportunities to attract 7 million foreign and 12 million domestic tourists next year, increasing the export of tourism services to $2 billion. Specific areas of work and those responsible for their implementation were defined.