Tourism is a multifaceted industry that has both economic and socio-cultural significance. This sector is the third most profitable in the world. Another important aspect is that it allows the creation of more jobs at a lower cost.
In Uzbekistan, this industry is consistently developing. The number of foreign tourists visiting the country in 2022 increased 3 times compared to 2021. The export of the industry amounted to 1 billion 600 million dollars. More than 11 million people traveled as part of domestic tourism programs. As a result of the creation of a new tourist center in Samarkand, the city has the opportunity to attract an additional 2 million tourists to the city.
The tourism potential of Uzbekistan is far from exhausted. Many wish to visit Uzbekistan. However, there is little content about places that may interest tourists. There are not enough offers that can encourage tourists to stay in the country for 4-5 days. There are problems with buying plane and train tickets months in advance.
Such problems that hinder the development of the industry were critically analyzed at the meeting. Important measures were defined.
The airport is the gateway to Uzbekistan for visitors from far abroad. In recent years, 5 new private airlines have been created. The domestic fleet has increased to 44 aircraft. Last year, the number of weekly flights increased from 46 to 78, and the number of passengers – from 6.5 thousand to 10 thousand people.
However, the shortage of domestic flights to Nukus and Urgench is 20, to Samarkand 15, to Bukhara and Termez 11 flights per week. There is also a need for 68 rail runs and 350 new railcars. There are not enough buses for tourists in Karakalpakstan, Jizzakh, Namangan and Surkhandarya regions.
In this regard, instructions were given to purchase another 20 modern aircraft by the end of the year and to increase air transportation. It was noted that the total number of domestic flights will be doubled – up to 100 per week, and part of the cost of air tickets on some routes will be subsidized.
This year, 8 electric trains will also be purchased. Tour operators, hotels and carriers will receive customs benefits when importing vehicles with 10 or more seats. Tourist buses will be allowed to pass through the Qamchiq and Jizzakh passes, along with Chimgan and Charvak.
Another important factor in tourism is the availability of accommodation. Due to the creation of wide opportunities, the number of beds in hotels has doubled over the past five years, reaching 60,000.
The Head of state noted the need for attracting foreign consulting companies, bringing conditions in hotels to the level of international standards, and allocating additional credit resources for them.
The content of tourism programs was also discussed at the meeting. It was emphasized that every extra day that tourists spend in Uzbekistan increases the annual tourism export by $300 million.
For example, foreign tourists visit Khorezm 2 times less often than Bukhara and Samarkand. However, Khorezm has every opportunity for tourists to stay in the region for 3-4 days.
Or last year, 31 districts and 143 mahallas specialized in tourism, and a special tax regime was introduced in them. About 4,000 enterprises took advantage of these benefits, their turnover increased by 1.5 times.
There is a lack of interesting programs and promotions to further increase the length of stay of tourists. Therefore, at the meeting, it was decided that 11 higher education institutions will help strengthen these two areas of the industry. They will collect information and create content about the history, monuments and sights of 31 districts and 143 tourist mahallas. Based on this, travel packages in 12 languages will be developed. Employees of tourism and service facilities will be trained in universities.
Responsible officials were tasked with organizing tourism clusters that unite hotels, sites of cultural, natural, ethnic- and gastronomic tourism, as well as introducing a hospitality certificate.
Tourist programs in Uzbekistan are mainly designed for April-May and September-October. But there are enough opportunities to extend the tourist season.
For example, the tourist season can become two months longer if the infrastructure for ski tourism is organized in Tashkent and Jizzakh regions, and in summer – swimming areas in other regions. In summer, you can take advantage of 22 nature reserves, 24 national natural parks and natural monuments.
Instruction was given to develop, using these resources, projects for summer and winter seasons, organize interesting festivals and cultural events during the off-season.
In addition, there are more than 8,000 cultural heritage sites and 122 museums in Uzbekistan. The expediency of conducting lessons in these places in such subjects as literature, history, geography, and fine arts was noted.
This year Uzbekistan will host a session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization. Samarkand will become World Tourism Capital in 2023.
The President of Uzbekistan noted that this year should become the year of promoting the rich cultural and tourism potential of Uzbekistan abroad.
For this purpose, 100 billion UZS have been allocated to attract tourists through marketing and advertising. The importance of developing a “Visiting Card of Uzbekistan”, updating the tourism brand, increasing advertising about Uzbekistan on international TV channels and websites was noted.
It was emphasized that this year there is an opportunity to attract 7 million foreign and 15 million domestic tourists, increasing the industry’s exports to $2.5 billion.
Ministers and hokims, entrepreneurs expressed their views and proposals on the issues discussed.