Tashkent has hosted the 22nd edition of Tashkent International Tourism Fair ‘Tourism on the Silk Road’. The two pavilions of Uzexpocentre presented leading travel agencies, hotels and recreational areas, types of tourism like active, gourmet, health, historical and others, which are already known to foreign visitors, or just entered the market.
Organized by Uzbektourism National Company and The Great Silk Road advertising agency with support from the UN World Tourism Organization, the event was attended by representatives of more than 100 tourist firms and companies of Chile, France, India, Japan, Lithuania, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and other countries.
Today, tourism ranks among the most profitable industries in the world, incorporating a big infrastructure: services, transport, hotels and campgrounds. It stands to reason that the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Tourism. The resolution recognizes "the importance of international tourism, which contributes to a better understanding between the peoples of the world, thereby increasing awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and cultures. Such a focus will ensure a better understanding of the values that are inherent in different cultures, societies, thus contributing to the strengthening of global peace."
The number of travelers is steadily growing year after year. According to the World Tourism Organization, the global number of tourists increased by 4.4% last year and reached 1.2 billion. In 2015, international tourism brought $1.5 trillion dollars of export earnings. It contributes to economic development and the creation of new jobs in many parts of the world, including Uzbekistan.
Last year, over 2 million tourists visited Uzbekistan. Hotels and new routes are opened, various types of tourism are developed. The further development of the sector and expansion of services for travelers have been in focus.
Uzbekistan has been developing a modern tourism infrastructure, creating conditions for exciting and eventful leisure of tourists. The Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan ‘On further support and development of tourism in the Republic of Uzbekistan’ of October 10, 2012, and the Law ‘On Tourism’ of 1999, serve as a guide to action in improving tourism infrastructure and active promotion of national tourism services in international markets.
Ranking among the oldest centers of world civilization, Uzbekistan has a remarkable tourism potential. There are over 4,000 monuments of architecture and art of different ages and civilizations. The country ranks ninth in the world in terms of historical places and resorts.
Today there are more than 1,200 tourism agencies, over 600 tourism companies, 660 hotels, tourist bases and campsites. Hotels are represented by well-known brands Radisson BLU, Wyndham, Ramada, Lotte and others. The other day, one of the leaders in the global hospitality industry, the network of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, announced the official opening and start of operation of the hotel Hyatt Regency Tashkent.
“We are very happy to open the first hotel of the Hyatt network in the capital of Uzbekistan,” noted the President of Hyatt Group for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Peter Fulton. “Hyatt Regency Tashkent was built with great care, so that the hotel guests feel comfortable and could stop here not just during their stay in the country, but also made it a place to mark the most important events.”
Located in the heart of the city, the hotel contains 300 rooms, including 52 suites, several restaurants, a bar, a swimming pool, a banquet hall, rooms for business meetings, events and much more.
Development of the transport sector is essential in terms of promoting the tourism industry. Uzbekistan Airways has renewed its fleet with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft in the current year, and is expanding the geography of flights. The launch of high-speed train Afrosiyob to Bukhara will certainly increase the tourist flow to the ancient holy city: now the train overcomes the distance between Tashkent and Bukhara for 3 hours 20 min., against previous 7-8 hours.
The electrified railroad Angren-Pap and the 19-kilometer tunnel through the Kamchik pass have been commissioned this summer. The Fergana Valley - a pearl of Uzbekistan - is now connected with other regions by a railway line.
Kashkadarya region is the region-partner of TITF-2016. The reconstruction of 14 historic sites was completed in Shahrisabz and Karshi in June 2016.
“About 30 tourist companies and hotels offer their services to guests in Kashkadarya region. Over a dozen holy places were reconstructed in Karshi, Shakhrisabz and other cities as part of the Tourism Development Program of Kashkadarya Region for 2013-2015. The country’s largest Amir Temur Square was opened in his hometown. Its length of slightly less than 1.5 km,” said the Uzbektourism authorized representative for Kashkadarya region, Uktam Hujayarov. “Such measures help to increase the number of tourists. Every year, our region is visited by nearly 100,000 travelers, about 10,000 of which are foreign guests. The scale of works has expanded under the Tourism Infrastructure Development Program for 2016-2017. We carry out long-term projects on the launch of new tourist destinations. For example, agricultural tourism has been increasingly popular of late. Local and foreign tourists take part in harvesting and tasting wines made from local grapes.”
Thailand was a partner country of the exhibition. This destination draws great interest among the Uzbek people. In four years, the flow of tourists from Uzbekistan to Thailand has increased by 20%. Their number exceeded 15,000 people in 2015 alone. Uzbekistan was the only country in the CIS that showed growth of tourist flow to Thailand last year. The number of tourists from Russia dropped by 45%, and from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus – by 20%.
Minister of Sports and Tourism of the Kingdom of Thailand Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul participated in the Tashkent International Tourism Fair, and saw the exhibits, representing the culture of all the regions of our country. During her visit, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul negotiated with Uzbektourism Chairman Farrukh Rizayev, and signed an agreement on cooperation in tourism. At the meeting, the Minister offered to send a film crew to Uzbekistan for producing a documentary about the country, and start promoting the Silk Road brand in the tourist community of Thailand.
“Tourism industry is well developed in Uzbekistan,” said the Minister of Sport and Tourism of Thailand Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. “The ancient city of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara, a unique cultural and spiritual heritage of the Uzbek people attract tourists to the country. The consistent and scaled work on preservation and profound study of architectural gems of priceless culture is worth of commendation. TITF has been contributing to the further development of the tourism industry not just in Uzbekistan, but around the world, as well as strengthening international cooperation in this area.”
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul also participated in the International Conference on ‘Services for the population of Uzbekistan and Tourism: the State, Problems and Prospects’, which was organized by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education at the Tashkent State Economic University.
Tashkent International Tourism Fair bears its obvious fruits. It is a platform for signing contracts, establishing business relationships, demonstrating the diversity of culture, art, architecture not only of Uzbekistan, but also foreign participants. Every year, the exhibition promotes Uzbekistan for more and more people in many parts of the world through programs, documentaries on Uzbek cities, life of their inhabitants, traditions and customs.
During the fair, the crew of the ‘Let’s go, let’s eat!’ TV program, headed by the leading expert of the culinary art John Warren, was producing the second edition of Uzbekistan. The first story was about Samarkand and Bukhara, and aroused great interest of the NTV audience. That is why it was decided to produce another one, which will be dedicated to Tashkent and Khorezm regions.
Through the program, the audience will not just get acquainted with the recipes of various dishes of national cuisine, but will get deeper introduced into the rich history, unique customs and traditions of the Uzbek people by the example of oriental pearl cities.
Over the last year, representatives of the forefront TV channels from different countries produced documentaries and commercials in Uzbekistan. The ARTE TV channel broadcasted the story ‘The Great Silk Road, and Other Miracles’ in France and Germany under the Mega-Info-Tours project by Uzbektourism. The footage took place in Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Ferghana and Margilan, where the presenter A. de Montesquieu talked with historians, archeologists and ordinary people, showing the age-old traditions and customs of Uzbek people, and their hospitality.
The German television channel NDR aired the premiere of the film ‘Uzbekistan: a Journey on the Silk Road’ in summer. The BBC Scotland crew produced the film ‘The Silk Road with Dr. Sam Willis’ in Uzbekistan. The Ukrainian public television channel ICTV broadcasted a cycle of special reports on tourism opportunities in Uzbekistan in the ‘Facts’ program. Under the Mega-Info-Tours project, a delegation of the Shanghai SMG Media Group produced a documentary on ‘An Unforgettable Trip to Uzbekistan’, which was shown in Getaway, one of the China’s most popular entertainment programs.
It is worth noting the fruitful cooperation with the Euronews TV channel. In late September, the crew visited our country once again to cover the tourism potential of the Khorezm region. Performances of a puppet theater of Khorezm region in Ichan Kala State Museum-Reserve, and the historical sites Juma Masjid and Tosh Hovli were filmed too.
Flavors of the national cuisine on the open ground of Uzexpocentre attracted visitors. The centuries-old gastronomic experience of the country was represented at the national cuisine festival. Chefs of the best restaurants of the capital demonstrated the process of cooking the world’s famous culinary delights from ordinary products and oriental spices.
Music did not fall silent for a minute. Crews from different regions and countries showed their national dances and sang songs in different parts of the vast hall. The participants could taste national dishes, fruits, buy articles of traditional crafts at the stands of regions of Uzbekistan. TITF included master classes of ceramics, dolls, ganch plasterwork, embroidery, gold sewing, shows and sale of Uzbek national dress.
The TITF business agenda was equally eventful. The B2B (Business to business) meetings for participants of Hosted Buyers (professional buyers) program was an important part of the agenda. 20 travel agencies from Armenia, India, Lithuania, UAE, Portugal, Russia and France, negotiated with tour operators of Uzbekistan contributed to signing contracts and establishment of partnerships. A scientific and practical conference under the Tashkent International Tourism Fair was dedicated to the development of domestic tourism, the current state and prospects of related public services.