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Monday, 24 June 2019 16:27

We are ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan, Abdulaziz Akulov Featured

We are ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan, Abdulaziz Akulov

spian Energy: What importance is being attached to the field of tourism in Uzbekistan today?

Abdulaziz Akulov, Acting Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Development of Uzbekistan: In Uzbekistan, the field of tourism is one of the strategic lines of economy at the today’s stage of the country’s development. Different measures are taken in this direction in order to ensure stable flow of tourists into our country, and more to the point, to employ the local population through provision of services in the field of tourism. International events hosted in Uzbekistan on a regular basis serve as a sort of diversification of our services. One of the latest events has been the First International Tournament “Strong men games” hosted in the city of Khiva on June 7-9. Here we can see a mix of sports, tourism and culture. When we speak of the “Strong men games” festival and see the smiles on faces of numerous viewers, both tourists and locals, it gives us momentum to keep working and implement more similar projects. We hope that our partners such as the World Strongmen Federation and other organizers will continue contributing to the increase of such events. We do really hope that such events provide insight into Uzbekistan from a different angle and promote the development of the tourism potential.

CE: What are the plans in regard to the increase of flow of tourists into Uzbekistan for coming years?

Abdulaziz Akulov: Nowadays, tourists heading to Uzbekistan are mainly the citizens coming from CIS states. We certainly do have plans to attract even higher quantity of tourists from far-abroad countries. As a result of reforms implemented over the last three years, last year we witnessed a double growth of tourist flow. Thus, 2.690 million tourists visited Uzbekistan in 2017, which increased up to 5.3 million at the end of 2018. Accordingly, it causes certain challenges in the tourism infrastructure, but engaged world experts and consultants state all as one that it is necessary to continue gathering momentum. That is to say, there is no need to think of the shortage of hotel rooms and air tickets as of the subvertisement. Moreover, we are also witnessing the growth of businesses’ interest in the tourism sector. Thus, the entrepreneurship considered tourism as a seasonal business before, while the construction of hotels in 2017 and 2018 enabled to increase the hotel room capacity by around 4.5% per year. Implementation of new projects gives a reason to assume the growth of the hotel room capacity by 37% by the end of the year. It means that the hotel room capacity in Uzbekistan’s hotels will reach 28,000 by the end of 2019, which practically solves the problem with the settlement of the increasing flow of tourists. Besides, the government and the state tourism committee have a responsibility before the business. We should ensure the all-year-round, not seasonal, flow of tourists into our country. And we will have to ensure constant growth of interest of business in the tourism sector. Therefore, we plan to conduct cultural, sports and other events throughout the year. Given the climate factors, we now have tourists coming in spring and autumn while conduction of different events will make it possible to ensure the flow of tourists throughout a year and take advantage of summer and winter seasons as well. In this way, we hope to achieve the year-round flow of tourists in order to ensure the load of the tourism infrastructure.

CE: How do you assess the possibilities of developing cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in the field of tourism? Is there a potential for development?

Abdulaziz Akulov: Opportunities do exist. We are neighbor countries. Our nations are also close to one another in terms of culture, customs, languages and many other aspects. We have a lot in common and we have the Great Silk Road linking us. We have certain plans to ensure a flow of tourists along this corridor and unite our historical cities with the Azerbaijani ones. There is an organization which initiates separate projects, but these are the plans for the future. We very hope for the combining of efforts. We are very happy to see Azerbaijani succeeding in the field of tourism development and to some extent we are studying its experience. Our common historical and ancient bonds kind of push us toward working jointly. We are ready to cooperate with the Azerbaijan Republic in every way.


CE: What stage has the project on introduction of the Silk Visa between the Central Asian countries?

Abdulaziz Akulov: The details of the project initiated by the Kazakh side are currently under discussion. The involved parties shall complete all technical details. Providing third countries’ citizens the right to enter, we should understand that both sides have to assume responsibility for decisions they make. We work closely with the Kazakh side in this direction, work on all technical details and make an official statement after reaching a certain progress on the project’s launch. The plan certainly envisages the engagement of other countries located along the Silk Road, which is offered by the Kazakh side as well. If this idea earns common understanding in regard to the details of implementation, it promises great success to all of us. Owing to the project, the flow of tourists will increase in each country and the parties will get an expected effect.

CE: To which countries does Uzbekistan give priority? Which new lines of tourism are being developed in Uzbekistan?

Abdulaziz Akulov: We give priority to neighbor countries, CIS states. Along with it, we have a grand potential to develop the pilgrimage tourism. As a tolerant country, Uzbekistan is creating conditions for pilgrims not only from Muslim countries but also for followers of Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. Now we are preparing a relevant infrastructure and target Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries for attracting tourists. South directions of Uzbekistan, which have Buddhism sources, will be of interest to Buddhism followers. Therefore, East and South East Asia are also priority for us. There is a special group of workers established in the State Committee for Tourism Development, which works on determining psychology of tourists coming from these countries. We need every single tourist. We have to implement our efforts effectively in order to ensure achievement of certain results. We are also boosting the flow from the European countries.


CE: With which countries did Uzbekistan introduce a visa-free regime? To what extent is it easy to get a visa to Uzbekistan?

Abdulaziz Akulov: There has been a 30 day free visa regime launched for citizens of 65 countries in Uzbekistan since February 1, 2019. The list includes almost all the European countries. Citizens of 77 countries enjoy a right to get an electronic entry visa within 2 days. Besides, citizens of 53 countries can stay up to 5 days in Uzbekistan as transit tourists. That is to say, if a tourist’s final destination is the third country, he/she is given up to 5 days to see the sights of Uzbekistan.

Thank you for the interview

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