July 23, 2014
Tourism: an essential component of the national economy
At present, tourism is one of the leading sectors of the world economy, with its share of global trade in services being in excess of 30 per cent. The tourist product is leading in the world marketplace on a par with oil.

Each year, the volume of investment in a given industry grows by about 35 per cent. Tourism is now one of the most profitable lines of business, accounting for up to 7 per cent of world capital, according to www.wikipedia.org. A rapid solidification of tourism’s financial-economic positions worldwide has resulted in the following phenomenon: in many countries, the sector proves a material factor of regional development, making it possible not only to exploit the entire complex of recreational resources, but also to use, in the most efficient manner, the aggregate industrial and socio-cultural potentialities of one or another region, while preserving its ecological and cultural diversity. That is why at the dawn of independence the Republic of Uzbekistan has identified the development of the tourist industry as one of priority directions of national economic policy. It should be observed that special attention was devoted to the creation of a corresponding legal framework. In particular, a big step was made towards the development of national tourism with the passage on August 20, 1999 of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, “On tourism”.

Thanks to the comprehensive economic policy successfully implemented by the Uzbek leaders, the country has become steady enough not only to withstand several grave after-effects of the global financial-economic crisis, but also to guarantee, alongside a handful of states across the globe, a stable pace of economic growth, including in the field of tourism.

It is necessary to highlight a number of factors facilitating the improvement of Uzbekistan’s attractiveness as a tourist destination of choice. These include: a great variety of favorable natural and climatic conditions, hospitality of Uzbek people as well as the nation’s rich and unique historical-cultural and architectural heritage. It goes without saying that such a diversity of flora and fauna, originality of landscape, a combination of natural zones, ethnic-cultural rituals, songs, dances and national cuisine can be found only in a modicum of the planet’s corners.

The temperate climate and availability of water resources make the Uzbek soil extremely fertile. Moreover, mild winters lure an enormous number of mountain-skiers to the Chimgan mountains located in Tashkent province. The Tyan-Shan and Pamir mountain systems give way to green oases covered by a net of irrigation canals watering cotton fields, blooming orchards and luscious vineyards. Green plains are encircled with mountain ranges with gleaming peaks. Lots of streams and rivers flowing down their slopes form the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, the biggest rivers in the Central Asian region.

The Kyzylkum Desert is home to many rare species of animals, including insects, rodents, birds, reptiles etc. The fauna in the Kyzylkum Nature Reserve, based in the Amu Darya tugai forests, is astonishingly diverse and impressive. The plant life in the tugai valleys is wholly unlike the vegetation elsewhere. The Djeiran Eco-Center, 40 kilometers off the town of Bukhara, attracts interest from far afield as a place, where rare and endangered animal species are restored.

Several yurta camps are situated on the picturesque banks of Lake Aidarkul, which abounds in fish. Traditionally, all reservoirs of a given water system are excellent places for amateur fishing. In addition, tourists are offered an opportunity to go camel-riding. Other romantic entertainments are available, which give an idea of different aspects of nomadic life.

In summer, mountain tourism in Uzbekistan offers a wide range of tourist products: bicycle tracks, walking tours, trips, tracking, rafting, hiking, horse-riding tours, having a rest in fashionable mountain health-resorts etc. In winter, the popularity of heli-ski (the delivery of skiers to mountain peaks by helicopters), snow-boarding (descent from snow-covered slopes and mountains using a snowboard) and para-gliding (a flight on an engineless piloting aircraft with an immovable wing) is very high.

The Uzbek people’s hospitality is really the talk of the town. It is not just a tradition, rather it is a moral imperative that originated in extreme antiquity. Residents of the Republic always welcome their guests with special cordiality and warmth. Since olden days, Uzbekistan was viewed as a bridge between different countries and peoples, a crossroads of ancient caravan routes, a point where languages, cultures and civilizations met and mixed. The Great Silk Road, which united China, India, Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, countries of the Near East and the Mediterranean, ran across this region.

Uzbekistan is renowned for its greatest cities, where hundreds of unique ancient architectural and historical monuments have survived down to the present day. Created in different epochs, the monuments testify to the Uzbeks’ rich material culture of the past. Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Shakhrisabz, Khiva, Termez and Kokand are all ancient cities, whose history numbers many centuries. Among their inhabitants were outstanding thinkers and poets, brilliant philosophers and scholars, and highly skilled craftsmen, who contributed enormously to the ancient Orient’s overall significance for the world culture.

In ancient times, these cities were part of big state structures, as well as the essential centers of buoyant caravan commerce along the Great Silk Road. More than 4,000 architectural and archeological monuments scattered throughout the country are now protected by UNESCO, with four of them being granted the organization’s World Heritage Site status.

The Uzbek government is exerting every effort to further develop the tourist industry’s infrastructure. In the last few years, a number of comfortable hotels have been erected in big cities nationwide. As for the existing ones, they have been restored in accordance with international standards. More and more modern restaurants, cafes and recreational facilities emerge in the Republic’s provinces. Up-to-date means of transport, ranging from automobiles to tourist buses, are at tourists’ service.

Any progress in the sector, however, is hardly possible without the availability of corresponding personnel and financial management. The multifaceted specificity of the tourist industry requires skilled specialists. That is why one of the main challenges faced by the Republic’s tourism remains the development and improvement of the multilayer system of continuous professional education in a given field, which can enable Uzbekistan to be highly competitive in the world tourist marketplace.

Today, several institutes of higher education and specialized secondary educational establishments in the country prepare specialists for the tourist sector. These include: the Tashkent State University of Economics, the Samarkand Institute of Economics and Service, as well as vocational tourist colleges situated in Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. What’s more, the Republican Scientific-Educational Consulting Center of the Uzbektourism National Company runs refresher and upgrade training courses designed to raise the level of professional skills in tourism-related specialists.

Undoubtedly, all the steps taken to develop tourist infrastructure in Uzbekistan bear fruit. In 2013, the total number of foreign and local tourists has exceeded 1.3 million, according to information revealed by Uzbektourism. For the time being, as many as 962 tour organizations carry out their activity in the Republic, including 531 tour operators and 431 hotels (the data are provided by Uzbektouirsm).

Special attention is also devoted to the creation of an environment subservient not only to the expansion of cooperation with foreign partners, but also to the development of local tourism. A number of marketing projects – mega-info-tours – are organized to promote the nation’s tourist potential and to boost Uzbektourism’s tourist flows.

Close linkages have been forged with many tourist companies from countries such as Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, France, China, Japan and others.

The 98th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council, held in the town of Santiago-de-Komposteda (Spain) on 4-6 June of the current year, approved a proposal advanced by the government of Uzbekistan to convene the organization’s next session, together with an international conference on tourism on the Great Silk Road, in the Uzbek town of Samarkand. This fact is another striking endorsement of the international recognition of the measures taken by the Republic in the field of tourism.

Annually, Uzbekistan hosts the Tashkent International Tourist Fair (TIFT). Last year, tourist companies from 40 countries presented more than 145 stands at the TIFT “Tourism on the Silk Road-2013”. 65 of them demonstrated the successes achieved in the tourism sector by foreign companies from the CIS member states, France, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Egypt, Israel, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Spain, Thailand, Italy, China, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Russia, Turkey etc.

Significant measures are taken by the Uzbek government to develop tourist infrastructural facilities in provinces. In particular, the Presidential Resolution No ÏÏ-1940 as of March 20, 2013 and the Resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan No ÏÊÌ-259 as of September 20, 2013 and No ÏÊÌ-294 as of November 1, 2013 approved the Programs of Tourism Development in Khorezm, Tashkent and Kashkadarya provinces in the period 2013-2015. These documents stipulate the implementation of large-scale projects aimed at speeding up the pace, at which tourist infrastructure is developed in the regions of Uzbekistan.

In addition, work is under way to promote the country’s tourist potential, including the dissemination of information that highlights the activity of tourist agencies and centers, rest zones, holiday hotels, sanatoria, health-resorts, health centers, sporting-sanitary, recreational and eco-tourism organizations operating in Uzbekistan. In the last few years hundreds of tourist tours were created countrywide, with thousands of cultural and architectural monuments and unique natural places being restored.

In a word, the development of the national tourist industry keeps pace with the times. At the same time, it should be pointed out that the available potentialities allow Uzbekistan to raise the tourist industry to a qualitatively new level. The sector’s further growth will, without doubt, affect the Republic’s economic life as a whole, since tourism boosts the development of other industries, such as construction, trade, agriculture, production of consumer goods and communications.

(Source: “Business Partner.uz” newspaper)


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