Tourism development areas defined
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On April 26, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a meeting on measures to expand the coverage of tourism services and develop tourism infrastructure.
The global tourism industry is starting to recover as restrictions imposed during the pandemic are gradually eased. 610,000 foreign tourists visited Uzbekistan in the first quarter of this year, which is more than twice as many as in the same period last year. The flow of tourists is expected to increase in the coming months.
The level of readiness of the tourism infrastructure was analyzed, shortcomings were indicated at the meeting.
There are fewer accommodation places in hotels in Karakalpakstan, Andijan and Kashkadarya regions than in demand. The great opportunities in Navoi, Jizzakh, Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya and Tashkent regions are not used. There are very few youth-oriented tourism services. The establishment of family-friendly and all-inclusive services is progressing slowly.
Only 18 out of 206 geothermal and mineral springs are used for tourism purposes. For example, the Arashan lakes on the Qamchiq pass, where the water temperature is 36 degrees all year round, are not inferior to foreign resorts in terms of tourism potential. Sanatoriums around thermal springs, the water of which has a temperature of 40-70 degrees, can be organized in Chimbay, Karauzak and Takhtakupir.
The potential of 122 museums in the country is not fully used. They contain more than 2.5 million items, of which 112 thousand are unique monuments of world history and culture.
Measures to use such opportunities to restore pre-pandemic indicators in the tourism sector and expand the range of services were discussed at the meeting.
It was emphasized that, first of all, it is necessary to implement large-scale projects in each region that will attract tourists.
Thousands of foreign and local tourists daily visit the Afsonalar Vodiysi complex in Namangan and the Amirsoy complex in Bostanlyk. Another project has been launched in Khanabad with the participation of foreign investors.
The President noted that there are many such places in Uzbekistan and listed the opportunities that have not yet been used.
These are the deepest caves in the world – Baybulak, and Teshiktash, where the remains of a Neanderthal were found, a monument of ancient Hellenistic culture – the fortress of Uzundara in Baysun. The nature and climate of the district are favorable for the development of tourism. We can attract 500,000 tourists by building hotels, campsites, cable cars, and tourist houses here.
The villages of Tovoqsoy in Bostanlyk, Ovjasoy in Akhangaran, Yangiobod in Angren, Miraki in Shakhrisabz, Nanay in Yangikurgan, Chodak in Pap also have such opportunities.
The possibility of creating bathing areas on the lakes Ashshikul in Nukus, Zikrikul in Bukhara, Aydarkul and Tuzkan in Jizzakh, as well as in the Charvak zone was noted.
Measures have been defined for the construction of caravanserais, which will provide such services as parking, camping, car service, catering and gas stations along the Uzbek tourist highway, passing through 31 districts and cities.
A package of services “for 1000 dollars” will be formed in Tashkent to ensure foreign tourists stay in the city for at least 3 days. This program will include year-round water and theme parks, food and shopping streets, live concerts, shows and festivals.
The development of domestic tourism was discussed at the meeting. The task was set to bring the flow of domestic tourists to 10 million people.
From July 1, entrepreneurs who have opened guest houses, catering and trade centers, and entertainment establishments in tourist villages will pay turnover tax and social tax at a rate of 1 percent for three years, as well as only 1 percent of the accrued property tax, land and water taxes. Within the framework of family business programs, loans will be provided: up to 50 million UZS – for the creation of guest houses in tourist villages, up to 300 million UZS – for the construction of complexes of yurts and eco-houses, up to 300 million UZS – for the construction of tented camps. Every year, 200 young people from tourist villages will study in tourism technical schools at the expense of the budget.
Hokims were instructed to improve roads, electricity supply, drinking water supply and communications in tourist villages. This year, 250 billion UZS will be allocated from the republican budget for these purposes.
The need was noted for creating websites and mobile applications that will help foreign tourists organize all stages of the journey.
Cultural events also play an important role in attracting tourists. Uzbekistan organizes 186 different festivals, including international ones. They have the potential to attract an additional 1 million foreign and 5 million local tourists. Responsible persons were instructed to hold these events at a high level of organization and security, to promote them around the world.
This year, additional days off were announced on the occasion of the Navruz holiday. Discounts were provided in 250 hotels and museums, and visits to pilgrimage tourism sites became free, which gave a great impetus to domestic tourism. An additional 110,000 local tourists visited Bukhara and Samarkand. Next week, compatriots will be able to rest for another 5 days on the occasion of Ramadan Hayit (Eid al-Fitr).
The Head of the state noted the need for stimulating domestic travel not only on the eve of the holidays, but throughout the year.
To this end, starting this year, the practice of covering by state organizations of the internal 20 percent of the tourist trip costs for their employees once a year at the expense of extrabudgetary funds will be introduced.
From September 1, 15 percent of the cost of air, railway and bus tickets, 20 percent of the cost of hotel accommodation, 50 percent of the cost of tickets to museums and other cultural objects will be refunded for citizens traveling across the country.
The effective organization of museum activities also plays an important role in tourism development. An instruction was given to conduct a complete inventory of all museum exhibits in the country, create their electronic database, and improve the skills of museum managers and employees.
Due to the lack of exhibition space, only 1 percent of exhibits are exhibited in museums. In addition, the population does not have access to remote museums. Therefore, it is necessary to organize mobile exhibitions of museums in the regions within the framework of the Rapprochement of Art to People Program. The task was set to turn over 4,500 archaeological sites in the country into open-air museums.
One of the most important means of organizing travel is transport. Today, high transport costs remain one of the main factors holding back the attraction of foreign tourists. There are not so many inexpensive international and domestic routes. You need to apply a few weeks in advance to get a ticket for the modern “Afrosiyob” train.
Therefore, the Ministry of Transport was instructed to improve the transport infrastructure in tourism.
From July 1, discounts of up to 50 percent will be introduced on services provided to foreign airlines under the Pilgrimage Tourism program to meet the demand of tourists for flights. By October 1, a new company, Silk Avia, will be established for domestic flights. 9 aircrafts will be fully upgraded to economy class to reduce costs.
The heads of the sector, hokims and entrepreneurs provided information on their plans and made proposals at the meeting.