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October 17, 2016



On October 5, Tashkent hosts international conference “Eco-tourism – an important factor in sustainable development and environmental protection: the experience of Uzbekistan and foreign practice”. The forum is organized by the State Committee for Nature Protection in cooperation with the National Company “Uzbektourism” with the participation of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan.

The conference has been attended by representatives of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ministries, departments and public organizations, international agencies – UNWTO, UNEP, UNECE, major financial institutions, the diplomatic corps, experts, domestic and foreign media.

An executive director for technical cooperation and services of the World Tourism Organization Shanchzhong Zhu has become an honorable guest of the forum.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, he said that Uzbekistan is one of the most dynamically developing countries and important partner of the UNWTO. In recent years, eco-tourism has become a segment of tourism and new area in tourism industry. The resolutions of the UN General Assembly from 2012 and 2014 recognize the importance of the development of eco-tourism in order to preserve natural resources and international cooperation in this field. It is emphasized that the holding of this conference is very timely, and considered questions are relevant not only for Uzbekistan but also for the whole world, especially in light of the fact that the United Nations has proclaimed 2017th year as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

As known, our country has great prospects for the development of eco-tourism, establishing a unique and sustainable network of ecotourism routes with the further integration of the republic into the international market such services which are attractive for all categories of tourists. Today Uzbekistan is one of the leading places in Central Asia by popular eco-tourism destinations.

Conference has been opened by a video show, dedicated to the natural and biological diversity of Uzbekistan and its eco-tourism potential.

According to organizers, the main purpose of the conference is the development of proposals on promising areas, mechanisms and instruments for the advancement of eco-tourism in the country, taking into account international experience and practice, the further expansion of international cooperation in the field of eco-tourism and nature conservation.

The program of the first day includes plenary sessions on thematic areas such as national legislative, scientific, methodological and institutional framework in the field of eco-tourism, the prospects of natural objects, a public-private partnership in tourism, training and re-training of qualified personnel for the ecological tourist industry.

It should be emphasized that this kind of tourism is gaining more and more popularity – according to the forecasts of the World Tourism Organization, this type is among the five main strategic directions of tourism development until 2020 and it is estimated that the share of eco-tourism in the total volume of the global tourism industry has reached more than 10 % in recent years, and its growth rate is 2-3 times higher than the corresponding rates in the entire tourism industry.

The development of eco-tourism, in turn, provides comprehensive support for environmental protection systems, biodiversity and unique natural areas, the maintenance of local incomes, and it is a promising market for investment projects.

Advantageous geographical location of Uzbekistan at the intersection of routes from east to west and from the south to the northern countries, climatic features a unique network of protected natural areas and a rich variety of landscapes offer great opportunities for the promotion of eco-tourism routes.

Currently, the system of protected areas includes 8 reserves, 2 natural national and one national park, 1 biosphere reserve, 12 nature reserves, 7 natural monuments, which have been presented at the international conference.

Answering journalists’ questions, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany to Uzbekistan Naythart Höfer-Wissing has said:

– We always interest in exchange of views on the international level for the development of tourism. Today, tourism revenues in Germany are more than 100 billion Euros, or about 4% of GDP. We aim to develop the so-called “soft tourism”, in which it is applied the best efforts to preserve the environment and natural resources. After all, along with a positive economic factor and expansion of inter-cultural dialogue, there is also the factor of depletion, pollution and destruction of natural areas, historical sights, infrastructure overload. I hope that during this conference it will be found ways towards minimizing the negative impact of these factors on the sustainable development of nations.

Within the framework of cooperation with Uzbekistan, the German Agency for International Cooperation – GIZ supports the reforms in the sphere of protection of natural resources, and has already implemented a number of joint projects in this area. In the framework of them our experts have advised Uzbek partners on the development of individual and ecological tourism.

In Germany these questions are very relevant too. There are several government programs aimed at conservation of nature for future generations.

Head of UNESCO Office in Uzbekistan Krista Pikatt has also stressed the importance of finding a balance between the development of tourism and protection of nature.

– As all resources, natural resources can be also exhausted, and with the growth of tourist flows this process is much faster. This, in turn, reduces the potential for eco-tourism, and here we discuss the relationship between these factors and the need to find optimal solutions. I look forward to positive outcomes from this conference, because it will be discussed today’s relevant questions which are consonant with the goals of sustainable development, adopted at the Millennium Summit in 2015. The organization of this event demonstrates the commitment of Uzbekistan to achieving these goals.

John Bruno, executive director of the International Society for ecotourism:

– We see that in Uzbekistan has carried out extensive measures to promote eco-tourism. This area allows you to significantly improve living standards, create new jobs and strengthen international relations. Successful implementation of set problems in this direction in Uzbekistan testifies the importance of a proper understanding of the scope and importance of the advancement, as a factor of sustainable development of the state as a whole.

It is gratifying that it has been already sufficiently developed in the country such types of tourism as eco-tourism, geo-tourism, extreme, health and cultural tourism, auto tourism and mountaineering, as well as other modern leisure activities.

It should be noted that on your fertile land where is situated on the Great Silk Road, more than seven thousand historical and cultural monuments survived. This rich heritage of the Uzbek people have been carefully preserving and passing down from generation to generation.

The main tourist centers of the country – Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. As a member of the UNWTO since 1994, Uzbekistan has conducted a number of important international events dedicated to the development of tourism. Among them – the first meeting of the countries of the Great Silk Road (Samarkand, 1994), a seminar on the preservation of cultural heritage (Bukhara, 1996), the third seminar on the development of tourism on the Silk Road (Bukhara, 2002) and others. In 2004, the UNWTO office was opened in Samarkand.

Conferences like this, contribute to the further development and promotion of the tourist potential of the Silk Road, and, of course, it cannot but gladden.

On the second day of the international conference foreign guests have been acquainted with the natural, historical and cultural attractions in the tours of ecotourism routes developed by the example of Ugam-Chatkal National Park.

Jahon Information Agency, corr. N.Saidaliyeva