The Uzbek government has announced an action plan to develop its tourism through various measures applied from the end of February 2021. Uzbekistan thus wishes to develop its tourism market, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
On February 3, Uzbek President Chavkat Mirzioïev signed a decree aimed at developing tourism in Uzbekistan, relayed the Uzbek business media Spot.uz. With these new measures, the most populous country in Central Asia wishes to increase its internal and external tourism by attracting local and neighboring populations, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
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Transport, tourist taxes, commercial advantages or additional days off, six themes are discussed. The objective is to create a favorable tourist environment and strengthen the image of the country. Tourism accounted for 3.4% of Uzbek gross domestic product in 2020, according to the Knoema economic database.
New air and rail lines
One of the major axes is to increase the supply of transport for getting around Uzbekistan. Return flights between Ferghana and Urgench, Termez and Ourgentch and Karchi and Urgench will be launched by the end of February 2021.
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Rail links between Andijan and Khiva, located in the east and west of the country, will be increased. In parallel, the launch of regular services connecting Termez, Karchi and Khiva, Khiva, Ourgentch and Noukous and Termez-Karchi-Samarkand is expected by April 1. These new lines will be subsidized by the authorities.
Extended financial benefits
These transport measures are supported by the extension until December 31, 2021 of the financial benefits decided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, the income tax rate continues to be reduced by 50% for travel agencies and accommodation establishments. Passengers’ expenses for plane and train tickets are subsidized up to 30% of their cost provided that a trip to Uzbekistan is organized for groups of foreign tourists of at least ten people, for a stay of five minimum nights in accommodation establishments.
For travel agencies and tourist entities providing accommodation services, an exemption from property tax and its payment for legal persons is applied as well as the establishment of the payment of social tax at a reduced rate of 1% . The application of penalties for unpaid debts on foreign trade transactions concerning travelers, travel agencies and accommodation establishments is suspended until the same date.
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However, and to support the infrastructure, the tourist tax will now be payable by all tourists and no longer only for foreign tourists. This measure will be implemented as of March 1st.
More broadly, Uzbekistan will allow from 1er next March for citizens of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and China to stay in the country without a visa for 10 days. Previously the limit was set at 5 days. French citizens benefit from a 30-day visa exemption since the visit of the Uzbek President to France in October 2018.
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Through these measures, Uzbekistan wants to improve the quality of its services and promote its tourism products both on its territory and internationally. Allocations and funds for the improvement of networks, municipal, road and tourist infrastructures will be released to achieve this. It remains to be seen whether these measures will have the desired effect.
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