Uzbekistan’s tourism saw tremendous damage in light of the coronavirus pandemic which has gradually affected every aspect of people’s lives in most countries around the world since the beginning of 2020.
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the frequency of international tourism travels will decrease by 80% worldwide by the end of 2020. As a result, the tourism industry will incur a loss of USD 800 billion and a total of 74 million people may lose their jobs as well.
Uzbekistan too is on the list of countries who had to suspend all international flights in March 2020. Consequently, 1,500 tour operators and 1,200 hotels have temporarily put all their activities on hold.
As Uzbekistan is adapting to the new normal resulting from the novel coronavirus outbreak, the country decided to take early steps towards reviving its tourism sector. From the first of June, 2020 Uzbekistan resumed internal tourism in “green” and “yellow” quarantine zones.
In a recent online UNWTO event, the Vice Prime-Minister and Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Development of Uzbekistan, Aziz Abdukhakimov, stated that the country will implement a recovery process in three stages.
Apart from the launch of domestic tourism, the first stage foresees the return of tourism operators, tourism agencies and cultural heritage sites and more. This will be done in strong compliance with sanitary rules.
Before opening borders for international travelers, the country is introducing “Uzbekistan. Safe Travel Guaranteed” system. Abdukhakimov stated that Uzbekistan aims to introduce a safe, yet simple system for travelling.
As a second stage, Uzbekistan plans to resume tourism with neighbouring and CIS countries. “With regards to this, we need to think of ensuring travelers’ safety, sanitary and social distancing measures throughout their trip in Uzbekistan,” added Abdukhakimov.
The Vice Prime-Minister also said that Uzbekistan is suggesting to the neighbouring and CIS countries to develop combined, thematically appealing tours. Those include gastronomical tours, paths on exploring nomads’ routes, motorcycle tours, pilaf tours, archaeological sightseeing and more.
The State Committee has developed the “Silk Road Project” platform which aims at promoting the tourism potential of both Silk Road countries and other appealing tourism routes.
At its third stage, Uzbekistan will resume international tourism as per the list of countries to enter. The list will be formed based on a country’s epidemiological situation.
“A lot of European and Asian countries are slowly coming out of COVID-19 crisis and getting ready to open their borders. We are studying the world’s best practices,” said Abdukhakimov.
The introduction of these three “Stages” is not the only measure Uzbekistan is working on to revive its tourism sectors. The State Committee for Tourism Development is thinking of new formats for luring tourists. “Stihiya” musical festival, “Akchakul” beach sports events and gastronomical events are among them.