PRESS OF UZBEKISTAN
June 30, 2016
UZBEKISTAN PREPARES FOR ROLE ON CENTRAL STAGE
As it was accentuated at a Cabinet of Minister’s sitting that discussed the results of the nation’s socio-economic development in the first quarter of the current year, the measures taken in Uzbekistan to ensure a rapid development of modern types of services have borne fruit in the form of a 12.1 boost to their overall volume, bringing their share of GDP to 50.5 per cent.
The services industry has a significant role to play in the national economy. It is no coincidence that in the last few years the development of this sector has been in the spotlight amid the processes of restructuring and diversification that have been unfolding in the economic sector. As a consequence, all directions of the services industry are developing at a fast clip. This is particularly true of tourism, which is increasingly becoming a critical factor behind a rise of employment rates and incomes of the population and the improvement of the quality of their life.
With its warm climate, green oases, blooming orchards, gleaming snow-capped peaks, plenty of sunshine and friendly people, the Republic of Uzbekistan has all the ingredients of a highly attractive tourist destination. Thanks to its convenient geographical location, natural-climatic conditions and a fair scattering of architectural and historical monuments, which have an important place in Asia’s Moslem heritage, the country’s tourism potential is vast, indeed. Today, Uzbekistan is one of the top ten states in the world by the number of ancient monuments. To be more exact, the total number of monuments of architecture and art scattered nationwide exceeds 7,000. All of them are protected by the state. The Uzbek ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Shakhrisabz are granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO. Known all over the globe as the “the eternal city”, Samarkand is added to the list of the world’s 50 cities to be worth visited in one’s lifetime. The picturesque valleys of Uzbekistan, forbidding mountain peaks, nature reserves, protected woodland etc. – all these natural beauties lure hordes of overseas travelers. That is why in 2004, the World Tourist Organization (WTO) opened its regional representative office in Samarkand. Big international events, conferences of every description and exhibitions of tourist products are held in all ancient cities of Uzbekistan. Many tourist routes of the Great Silk Road that link up Europe with Asia also run through the Republic’s territory.
In his salutatory address made at the opening ceremony of the UN WTO Executive Council’s 99th session convened in Samarkand, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UN World Tourist Organization, dwelled on a remarkable increase in the level of industrial attractiveness of Uzbekistan’s tourist infrastructure.
In particular, Mr Taleb Rifai pointed out: “We witness many changes in Uzbekistan; we see that under the wise and far-sighted leadership of President Karimov, who devotes much attention to the development of tourism, the Republic of Uzbekistan can become one of the major centers of tourism development”.
Indeed, it is on the Uzbek leader’s initiative that the legal framework of tourism was created in the first place. Passed in 1999, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, “On tourism” marked the beginning of a new, qualitatively different stage in the sector’s development. Its implementation comprised the attraction of investments, modernization of infrastructural facilities, creation of new tourist routes and suchlike. For the time being, there are 1,176 tourist organizations in Uzbekistan, including 621 tour operators and 555 hotels and guest houses.
Given a growing competition in the international tourist market, the Uzbek government has been constantly looking for ways to give impetus to the development of tourism and to strengthen its economic position. The large-scale reforms carried out in the national tourist industry have swelled the flow of foreign tourist to Uzbekistan. In 2014, over 2 million travelers from 70 countries visited the Republic. At the same time, the exports volumes of tourist services exceeded US $1 billion. To compare, last year the total volume of tourist services went up by 15.9 per cent and their exports – by 12.9 per cent. It is also worth mentioning that within the framework of regional programs for tourism development, 814 new jobs were created, with the overall number of people engaged in the tourist industry being in excess of 200,000.
In 2015, the approval by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan of the following resolutions: “On measures to develop roadside tourist infrastructure” and “On several issues of tourism development in the Republic of Uzbekistan” is viewed as a logical continuation of reforms in this sector. These documents have accelerated the processes of deep structural changes and diversification in the national economy as a whole. The ensuing renovations allow the national tour operators not only to perfect the infrastructure of tourism, but also to enter the international market with a range of their unique tourist products.
International experts admit that the Republic of Uzbekistan is capable of providing tourist services all the year round. This is possible because the country is situated near the 40th parallel, which is considered in the world to be the ecological optimum on the plain. This parallel runs across the town of Samarkand. As for the highlands, accounting for 21 per cent of the country’s total square, they also possess lots of attractive conditions. Such a favourable natural environment allows the Republic to develop ecological tourism, which is regarded all over the world as an innovative direction.
Ecotourism is based on active types of recreation. A growing number of travelers worldwide are increasingly showing preference to ecological tourism, because they get pleasure from the nature’s striking diversity and enrich their stock of ecological knowledge. Their passion for this type of tourism fetches big revenues to tour operators. The relief of Uzbekistan is very diverse and varied. Its vast depressions, high mountains, the nut-tree forests, the sand hills of deserts and cool green oases lure many tourists from all over the world. All this helps to develop ecological tourism, which, in turn, is needed to maintain the people’s link with the environment.
One of the peculiarities of ecological tourism is that there is no need to construct expensive hotels with a whole spectrum of modern services. Small campings, guest houses and even yurts may be enough to produce a great impression on nature-lovers. According to the State Committee on Nature Conservation, at present, the Republic has 8 nature reserves, 2 national parks, 3 nursery gardens, 10 game reserves, 5 natural monuments and a biospheric sanctuary, all of which occupy 5 per cent of its territory. It goes without saying that this direction of tourist activity possesses big prospects in Uzbekistan. But that scope of unique geographical advantages should be used as efficiently as possible, amenably to the requirements specified in the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, “On protected natural territories”.
Recreation zones and comfortable infrastructural facilities are built countrywide in an effort to benefit from the available advantages in full. For example, the sporting and health-improving centers Chimgan, Beldersay and Charvak, based at 80-kilometers’ distance from the capital city, all necessary conditions are created for mountain-skiing and other winter sports. Here, at a height ranging from 1,500 meters to 4,100 meters above sea level, there are lots of mountain tracks, whose length varies from 300 meters to 3,000 meters. Comfortable cottages, hotels, guest houses, restaurants, snack-bars, gyms and consumer service centers are in place there.
The development of tourism, in turn, opens up highly promising opportunities for the development of associated services, such as the food industry, agriculture, transport, the services sector etc. According to data provided by the World Tourist Organization, tourism accounts for 10 per cent of GDP, 30 per cent of services exports, 9 per cent of employment, 11 per cent of investments, 5 per cent of tax revenues and 33 per cent of tourism-related sales revenues. Moreover, the exportation of tourist services is the world’s third biggest industry, after the oil and car-construction sectors. In many countries, tourism represents a solid source of foreign exchange revenues.
Thanks to large-scale reforms, Uzbekistan’s tourist potential has been growing year in, year out, thus contributing to the creation of new jobs, an increase in the volumes of currency revenues earned by local tour operators and to the rapid growth of the national economy as a whole.
(Source: «Business partner.uz» newspaper)