On March 29, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a video conference on enhancing tourism potential of our country.
Tourism is a multifaceted sector of both economic and socio-cultural importance. This sector is the third most profitable in the world. Another important aspect is that it creates more jobs at a lower cost.
This sector is consistently developing in our country. In particular, the number of tourists, who visited our country in 2022, increased threefold compared to 2021. The export of the sector amounted to $1,6 billion. As part of the programs of domestic tourism, more than 11 million people have traveled. Due to the creation of a new tourist center in Samarkand, the city managed to attract an additional 2 million tourists.
The tourist potential of our country is far from being exhausted. There are many who wish to visit Uzbekistan. However, there is not enough information about places that can draw tourists, not enough offers that can make tourists stay longer in our country for 4-5 days. There are problems with buying plane and train tickets several months in advance.
At the meeting, such problems hindering the development of the sector were critically analyzed. The important measures were defined.
An airport is a gateway to Uzbekistan for arrivals from far abroad. In recent years, five new private airlines have been established and the domestic fleet has increased to 44 planes. Last year, the number of weekly flights increased from 46 to 78 while the number of passengers rose from 6,5 thousand to 10 thousands.
However, the shortage of domestic flights to Nukus and Urgench is 20, to Samarkand 15, and to Bukhara and Termez 11 flights a week. There is also a need for 68 railway trips and 350 new train carriages. There is a shortage of buses for tourists in Karakalpakstan, Jizzakh, Namangan and Surkhandarya regions.
In this regard, it was instructed to buy 20 more modern airplanes and increase air travel by the end of the year. It was noted that the total number of domestic flights would be doubled making up to 100 a week, a part of the air tickets’ cost for some routes will be subsidized.
This year, eight electric trains will also be purchased. The tour operators, hotels and carriers will get customs privileges for import of vehicles with 10 or more seats. The passage of tourist buses through Kamchik and Jizzakh mountain passes, as well as through Chimgan and Charvak will be allowed.
Another important factor in tourism is the availability of accommodation facilities. The number of places in hotels has doubled over the past five years, reaching 60 thousand, due to the creation of ample opportunities.
The President stressed the need to attract foreign consulting companies, take conditions in hotels to international standards, and allocate additional loans for them.
The content of tourist programs was also discussed at the meeting. It was underlined that every extra day that tourists spend in Uzbekistan increases the annual export of tourism by $300 million.
For instance, foreign tourists visit Khorezm twice less than Bukhara or Samarkand, while Khorezm has all opportunities for them to stay 3-4 days in the region.
Last year, 31 districts and 143 makhallas were specialized in tourism with the introduction of a special tax regime. Nearly 4 thousand businesses took advantage of these benefits and their turnover increased by 1,5 times.
There is a lack of interesting programs and promotions for further increasing the stay of tourists. Therefore, at the meeting it was decided that 11 higher educational institutions will help to strengthen these two areas of the sector. They will collect information and create content on the history, monuments and sights of 31 districts and 143 touristic makhallas. On this basis, tourist packages will be prepared in 12 languages. The staff of touristic sites and services will be trained in higher education institutions.
The responsible officials were tasked to organize tourism clusters that combine hotels, cultural, natural, ethnic and gastronomic tourism facilities, as well as to introduce the certificate of hospitality.
The touristic programs in our country are mainly designed for April-May and September-October. However, there are enough opportunities to prolong the touristic season.
For instance, the touristic season can become two months longer by organizing infrastructure for skiing tourism in Tashkent and Jizzakh regions, and in summer swimming zones in other regions. Additionally, it is possible in summer to take advantage of 22 nature reserves, 24 national nature parks and natural monuments.
It is instructed to develop projects using these resources for summer and winter seasons, to organize interesting festivals and cultural events in off-season time.
In addition, there are more than eight thousand objects of cultural heritage and 122 museums in our country. The usefulness of conducting lessons on such subjects as literature, history, geography, and fine arts in these places was underscored.
This year our country will host a session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization. Samarkand will be the capital of world tourism in 2023.
The President stressed that this year must be the year of promotion of our country’s rich cultural and tourist potential abroad.
For this purpose, 100 billion Uzbek soums have been allocated to attract tourists through marketing and advertising. The importance of developing a «business card of Uzbekistan», renewing of the tourist brand and increasing advertising about Uzbekistan on international TV channels and internet platforms were noted.
In general, it was emphasized, that this year it is possible to attract 7 million foreign and 15 million domestic tourists and to increase export of the sector up to $2,5 billion.
The ministers, khokims and entrepreneurs expressed their opinions and suggestions on the issues discussed.