Tourism in Uzbekistan
Tourism in Uzbekistan is the dynamically developing sector of the country
In the Republic of Uzbekistan, consistent reforms are underway to develop the tourism sector as one of the strategic sectors of the national economy, which in the long term will help to solve such important social and economic tasks as job creation, diversification of the economy and accelerated development of regions, increasing incomes and quality of life of the country’s population. Decree of the President of Uzbekistan dated December 2, 2016 “On measures to ensure accelerated development of the tourism industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan” defines the main tasks and priorities of the state policy in the sphere of tourism, including giving for tourism the status of a strategic sector of the economy and making this industry a powerful tool for sustainable development. The adopted Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of August 16, 2017 “On priority measures for the development of tourism for 2018-2019” is considered a logical continuation of the state policy pursued by the country’s leadership in the sphere of tourism and is aimed at maximizing favor with the creation of a comfortable economic, administrative and legal environment for the accelerated development of the tourism industry, expanding the economic potential of the regions and their revenue base, organizing new jobs, increasing the tour east streams to the republic, as well as active and integrated promotion of the national tourist product in world markets.
According to available data, for the first half of 2017, 118 business entities started operating, 60 of them rendering hotel services and 58 providing tourist services. In January-June 2017, the main indicators of the tourism sector exceeded the parameters achieved by the results of the same period of the previous year, incl. the growth rate of export of tourist services for the first half of 2017 amounted to 113.5%.
The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development is an authorized state body in the tourism industry. The main tasks of the Committee are:
• ensuring the formation and implementation of a holistic concept of tourism development aimed at radically increasing the country’s tourism potential;
• realization of marketing researches on external and internal markets of tourist services, implementation, active advertising and information policy in the sphere of tourism, promotion of national tourism products and brands to international tourism markets;
• coordination of the development and monitoring of the implementation of national and regional programs for the integrated development of inland, inbound and outbound tourism, the accelerated development of a wide range of tourism, attracting foreign investment, as well as loans and grants from international financial institutions and other organizations to the development of tourism infrastructure;
• coordinating the development of tourism activities, ensuring the creation of new tourist routes in the regions, their certification, the formation of unified national registers on tourist routes and tourist facilities;
• coordination of the development of quality and safety standards for the provision of tourist services aimed at ensuring the safety and health of tourists in the organization of tourist services;
• development of proposals on optimization of state and market regulation in the sphere of tourism and development of competition in the tourist services market, elimination of all obstacles and barriers hampering the development of tourism, comprehensive assistance to enhance entrepreneurial activity in tourism, active introduction of information and communication technologies in this field;
• expansion of international cooperation in the field of tourism, primarily with the UN World Tourism Organization, authoritative international and national tourism organizations, as well as foreign companies engaged in tourism, the introduction of international and interstate standards and norms in the practice of tourism;
• organization at a high-quality level of regular retraining and advanced training of employees of tourism entities, rendering assistance in the development of sectoral tourism science.
Today, the State Committee for the Development of Tourism uses various tools to promote the national tourist product among the foreign public. The State Committee for the Development of Tourism participate with a national stand in a number of the world’s largest tourist exhibitions as “FITUR” in Spain, “1TV” in Berlin, “M1TT” in Moscow, “JATA” in Tokyo, “Top Resa” in Paris, “the WTM” in London . Also on the territory of the republic, two major tourist events are held annually in Central Asia: the international Uzbek tourist exhibition “World of Rest” and the Tashkent International Tourism Fair “Tourism on the Silk Road”, which are held in April and October respectively. In addition, Tourism committee renders constant assistance to the tourism companies of Uzbekistan in establishing direct business contacts with foreign travel companies through the organization of business meetings in the B2B format.
At the same time, on a regular basis, study visits are organized for representatives of foreign media. As part of these trips, journalists visit the main tourist centers of the country and other attractions that cause their interests. As a rule, based on the results of these trips, appropriate photos and videos and articles on tourism opportunities and potential of Uzbekistan are prepared.
Currently, there is a national tourism portal “Uzbekistan.travel”, where users can view information about Uzbekistan in eight languages. Also, in various social networks, official accounts of both the Committee and the national tourist portal are maintained.
Together with this, the State Committee for Tourism, together with the diplomatic missions of the country, applies various methods of promotion. For example, the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Austria at the University of Vienna organized a meeting for students dedicated to Uzbekistan. In particular, a special emphasis is placed on tourism opportunities and the potential of the republic. As a result of this meeting with the university’s leadership, an agreement was reached to include topics about history, geography and economic geography for four semesters of 2017 and 2018, topics about Uzbekistan. This practiceм will expand the audience of foreign citizens who are keen on Uzbekistan.
In general, the ongoing reforms are aimed at simplifying the organization of tourist trips to Uzbekistan.
In accordance with the State Program for the Implementation of the Strategy for the Five Priority Areas of Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, preliminary data from visitors to the border services are collected through information and communication technologies.
In addition, further simplification of registration procedures for foreign citizens is envisaged, including the filing of on-line applications with a travel route equivalent to temporary registration. This will contribute to the further development of such areas of tourism as active, eco-tourism and agro-tourism.
The Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan established the Working Group on the preparation of proposals for the step-by-step simplification of visa and registration procedures for foreigners. This will facilitate the simplification of requirements for entry into the country, as well as the diversification of the tourist flow based on the requirements of the market and the interest of foreign citizens.
The growing market of information technologies, including mobile applications, does not bypass the sphere of tourism of Uzbekistan by the party. At this stage are being developed annexes to promote the development of independent tourism, with the introduction of services for taxi orders, restaurants, as well as the “alarm button” application aimed at ensuring the safety of tourists in particular lovers of natural and ecotourism. Separately, you can mention the service «Uzbekistan Pass» a mobile guide with detailed information about historic places and sights of Uzbekistan. The service also assumes the possibility of purchasing a discount card, which gives an opportunity to visit a lot of objects for free, as well as to receive discounts in more than 600 establishments (restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, etc.). The subjects of the tourism industry themselves are actively introducing technologies to further improve the service, including hotels and transport companies successfully use online booking systems and various mobile applications.
As for the further improvement of the price policy the National Airline Company “Uzbekistan havo yullari” announced discounts for travelers organized in groups and individuals. Also, the system for groups of tourists is successfully functioning, when buying a ticket of “Uzbekistan havo yullari” to Uzbekistan, free travel is provided for the chosen direction inside Uzbekistan. It is also worth noting the overall coordination of the price policy for domestic transport, which gives travelers the opportunity to plunge into the color of the most attractive areas of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has a huge tourist potential and in order to form and promote a competitive tourist offer Tourism Committee of Uzbekistan together with local authorities take the necessary measures for the further development of tourism, including the creation of infrastructure, development of the transportation system.
From July 1, 2017, enterprises that attract direct private foreign investment and specialize in the provision of hotel and tourist services are granted tax incentives.
In particular, these companies are exempt from corporate income tax, property tax, tax on improvement and development of social infrastructure, single tax payment for micro-firms and small enterprises, as well as mandatory contributions to the Republican Road Fund.
The specified tax privileges are given at volume of direct private foreign investments:
from 300 thousand US dollars to 3 million US dollars – for a period of 3
of the year;
more than 3 million US dollars to 10 million, US dollars – for a period of 5
more than 10 million US dollars – for a period of 7 years.
The tourism sector has already received an assessment of the attractiveness due to benefits and preferences granted to entrepreneurs. This is the result of the attention that the state pays for the development and formation of a qualitative environment for the further development of the sphere. For these purposes, a number of privileges and preferences for business entities in the sphere are envisaged. In particular:
for 5 years from the payment of corporate income tax, land tax and property tax, as well as a single tax payment of legal entities, business entities were released upon entering into operation hotels and motels of at least 4 stars certified in accordance with the established procedure;
legal entities are exempted from payment of customs duties (except for customs clearance fees) for imported equipment, machinery, components, spare parts and materials not produced in the Republic of Uzbekistan for the construction and reconstruction of hotels and motels, according to the lists approved according to established order;
released when importing into the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan from the import customs duty and value-added tax, buses intended for the transportation of 30 people or more, including the driver corresponding to the standard of Euro 3 or more.
In addition, by the decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of August 16, were released until January 1, 2022:
hotels – from payment of a single social payment of the payroll fund of qualified foreign specialists, attracted as management personnel;
income of qualified foreign specialists invited as hotel management personnel – from the payment of personal income tax.
Relations between the Republic of Uzbekistan and India in the field of tourism are conducted on the basis of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Government of the Republic of India on cooperation in the field of tourism dated 06.07.2015, which provides for multilateral cooperation of the two countries in the field of tourism.
It should also be noted that Indian travel companies annually take part in the International Uzbek tourist exhibition “World of Rest” and the Tashkent International Tourism Fair “Tourism on the Silk Road”. So, in 2016 three tourism companies of India took part in the work of the fair “Tourism on the Silk Road”.
Also at the level of business communities, there is an ongoing exchange of views and contacts in order to further deepen cooperation in the field of tourism.
Speaking about the prospects of Uzbek-Indian relations in the sphere of tourism, I would like to note that, according to the State Committee on Statistics of Uzbekistan, in 2016, about 19,000 Indian citizens visited Uzbekistan. However, this indicator does not reflect the potential that the Indian outbound tourism market has. In the long term, the Uzbek side will strive to ensure that the number of Indian citizens visiting the republic for tourist purposes has increased at times. And to achieve this goal, the State Committee for the Development of Tourism will make all possible efforts, including to create the necessary infrastructure and provide the most comfortable conditions for Indian tourists in Uzbekistan.