Thanks to the strong political will of the leaders of Uzbekistan and China, in recent years there has been a dynamic development of cooperation between the two countries in all areas.
The relations of comprehensive strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and Chinese has been enriched with more and more practical content. This trend also applies to the tourism sector.
As it’s known, due to the suspension of international passenger traffic and other factors, tourism remains one of the industries most affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
However, we are seeing a gradual improvement of the situation and the industry is recovering. The dynamics of the development of the entire complex of Uzbek-Chinese relations gives grounds to assert that this trend will also affect the tourism sector, which will grow and gain new momentum. Cooperation in this area has a huge potential.
Such optimistic forecasts also come from the latest statistical data. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, in 2019, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Uzbekistan increased three times more than in 2017. These indicators confirm that Uzbekistan is becoming a popular tourist destination for Chinese tourists.
This is not surprising, since Uzbekistan is a country with a long history, where modern buildings are successfully combined with the architectural masterpieces of our ancestors. It should be noted that Uzbekistan ranks ninth in the world in terms of the number of historical and architectural monuments.
The passage of the Great Silk Road through the country in the past centuries gives the appearance of Uzbekistan a special mystery and attractiveness. Along with this, we can highlight such important factors as security, world-famous cities, the unique taste of national cuisine, picturesque nature, the availability of direct flights, as well as the preserved identity of the people, their traditions, customs, mentality, friendliness and hospitality.
However, it should be emphasized that the recent achievements have not occurred by themselves, but are the result of the relevant measures taken in Uzbekistan in recent years, as well as active cooperation with China at various levels.
What was Done?
Tourism in Uzbekistan is considered as a sphere designed to become a strategic branch of the national economy, the engine of accelerated integrated development of regions and their infrastructure, increasing the income, level and quality of life of the population.
To this end, in recent years, the Government of Uzbekistan has adopted a number of legislative acts defining the main directions of state policy in the field of tourism. Among them the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on tourism development of tourism in Uzbekistan for 2019-2025 and many others.
According to these documents, since 2018б all international airports of Uzbekistan have
introduced the “green corridor” system for foreign tourists, which provides for a simplified procedure for passport and customs control, baggage collection. The airports of Andijan, Bukhara and Urgench have been opened for international airlines under the fifth degree of “air freedom”.
All restrictions on the number of flights and destinations are removed. Any companies will be able to fly to these airports, regardless of the existence of intergovernmental agreements.
Due to the pandemic, some restrictions have been imposed in Uzbekistan, as in many other countries, but as the situation stabilizes, all of the above measures will continue. Tourist information centers are open in all cities, where guests of the country can apply for tourist SIM cards, travel guides and advertising brochures.
In addition, if necessary, tourists will be informed about the procedure for staying in the country. Also, a free mobile application has been created for tourists, where you can see the sights of Uzbekistan and build a route. Special attention is paid to measures to ensure the safety of tourists. In recent years, according to various international organizations, Uzbekistan has consistently been among the five safest countries in the world, both for single tourists and for tourist groups.
In order to create safe conditions for the stay of foreign tourists, since 2019, the Department for Tourism Safety has been organized. The Offices of the Tourist Police Department are located directly in the tourist information centers. Every day, major tourist sites, railway stations, airports, the places of the greatest concentration of tourists, are patrolled by operational groups of the tourist police.
Enhanced measures are being taken to preserve cultural heritage, both in UNESCO World Heritage Areas and in other cities. A new list of buildings of the XX century period in the architectural genres of constructivism and modernism is being prepared for inclusion in the list of material cultural heritage of Uzbekistan. This period is of increasing interest to foreign tourists. A special program for the development of tourism in the genre of “Nostalgia”is planned.
Two-way interaction China has long been at the forefront of outbound tourism in the world. Before the pandemic, more than 150 million tourists left China every year. In this regard, it is no secret that Uzbekistan today, actively forming a new tourist brand, pays special attention to stimulating the attraction of Chinese travelers.
In particular, active measures have been taken to organize special conditions for tourists from China, which provide for easier and shorter processing times for issuing visas for groups of Chinese tourists.
In 2018. Uzbekistan has introduced a simplified procedure for issuing tourist visas for Chinese citizens. From January 1, 2020, a visa-free regime for Chinese Citizens to enter Uzbekistan for a period of 7 days is established, and from March 1, 2021, the period of stay of Chinese tourists will be extended to 10 days, including from the Hong Kong and Macau.
We should also note the appointment of Mr. Zou Tongqiang, Vice President of the Beijing University of International Studies to the post of Adviser of the Silk Road International University of Tourism in Samarkand, which was opened by the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, announced during the SCO summit in Qingdao in 2018.
In addition, there is an active cooperation with specialized universities in China, for the training of guides in Chinese, which in the near future will provide convenient and comfortable conditions for Chinese tourists to stay in Uzbekistan.
Cooperation in the field of tourism is also actively promoted within the framework of interregional cooperation. It is planned to open representative offices of the State Committee for Tourism Development in Xi’an, Chengdu and other cities, whose activities will be aimed at promoting the national product and brand of Uzbekistan, implementing an active advertising and information campaign in the tourism sector, holding joint exhibitions, fairs and other events.
Close contacts have also been established with the Chinese media. In order to explore a wide audience of China with the tourist potential of Uzbekistan, in cooperation with the television channel CCTV-4 , “CCTV-6” and “CCTV-7” released a series of documentaries about the current state of bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and China, including in the framework of the BRI, the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Margilan, Kokand, well-known historical figures (Amir Temur, Mirzo Ulugbek, Abu Ali Ibn Sino, Abu Rayhon Beruniy, etc.) and the traditions and customs of the peoples of Uzbekistan, etc.
Historically, the Great Silk Road has made a great contribution not only to trade and economic relations between Eastern and Western civilizations, but also to the development of religious and cultural dialogue.
Today, Uzbekistan, as the heart of the ancient Silk Road, is becoming very popular among Chinese tourists.
Among the favorite places to visit for Chinese tourists are Registan Square and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand, the Kalyan Arch and Minaret in Bukhara, and, of course, Ichan-Kala in Khiva.
Nevertheless, the current state of cooperation between our countries in the field of tourism is far from the existing huge potential. The prospects are quite broad and in the near future we will definitely increase the exchange of tourists at times.
For example, in recent years, a set of practical measures to promote pilgrimage tourism has been implemented. As part of this, scientific research and archaeological excavations are being carried out, which have made it possible to demonstrate previously unknown to the international community, including academic circles, Buddhist monuments on the territory of Uzbekistan. Many rare Buddhist relics are also kept in the Museum of the History of Uzbekistan.
The history of such ancient Buddhist monuments as Kara-Tepe Monastery, Fayaz-tepe temple, Dalverzin-tepe, Erkurgan monastery, etc. It is of great interest among the Chinese who profess Buddhism. The relevant work is carried out jointly with the Buddhist Association of China.
In addition, the recreational resources available in the country allow the development of all types of tourism, such as ecotourism, geotourism, mountaineering, extreme, cultural tourism, fishing, rafting; various tourist routes and receive guests all year round.
As a result, Uzbekistan is able to offer a wide range of services both for lovers of cultural and educational recreation, and for active recreation.
In general, we are optimistic about the resumption of the tourist season & that Uzbekistan will be able to confirm its status as an attractive tourist country for Chinese tourists.
Сooperation in the field of tourism is identified as one of the priorities of the “Belt & Road” Strategy. Uzbekistan, as a country that was at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road, plans to fully use its advantages under this program and cooperate with China in order to become an active participant in the international tourism market.