After Uzbekistan’s Independence its tourism industry has been consistently developing. Large-scale reforms that have been carried out by the government resulted in significant changes in tourism infrastructure. New tourism directions have been developed, modern hotels have been constructed, ancient historical monuments and shrines for pilgrimage have been restored, and a number of new highways have been laid out.
Every year the number of tourists visiting Uzbekistan increases. The interest of foreign guests to the ancient culture, historical and architectural monuments, unique culture of Uzbekistan, which is one of the most striking countries of Central Asia, grows steadily.
From the ancient times Uzbekistan has been the land where extensive monumental construction was carried out, crafts and art centers developed, sciences flourished. At the present time the country boasts more than 4000 historical and architectural monuments; invaluable spiritual heritage of the great ancestors is preserved with care. The main tourist centers of Uzbekistan - Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, attract millions of foreign tourists annually.
More than 800 enterprises are involved in development of the country’s tourism market. The relations with foreign tourist organizations are extended and strengthened. In Uzbekistan tourism industry is considered an important branch of economy and one of the promising directions of international cooperation development.
A valuable contribution to the development of regional tourism market is made by annual Tashkent International Tourist Fair, which has been held since 1995. This fair is an important international forum in Central Asia and an excellent platform for constructive dialogue between tourist organizations of various countries.
In coming October there will be next Tashkent International Tourism Fair that will be another good occasion for representatives of tourist organizations across the world to get together and exchange ideas of further promoting this industry.
For centuries the land of Uzbekistan used to be the main sections of the Great Silk Road which left invaluable material and spiritual legacy to the whole humanity.
In the international tourism market Uzbekistan is positioned as the central crossroad of the Silk Road. The country plays an active and substantial role in the development of the Great Silk Road tourism.
Since 1991 the interest to the Silk Road has been revived. World Tourism Organization (WTO) together with UNESCO put forward a concept of the Great Silk Road revival.
The first WTO meeting dedicated to the issues of Silk Road tourism took place in October 1994 in Uzbekistan’s capital--Tashkent.
The meeting adopted a number of fundamental resolutions on Silk Road tourism development. On October 5, 1994 the representatives of nineteen Silk Road countries adopted a “Samarkand Declaration on the Silk Road Tourism”.
On November 6, 1998, in Tashkent, at the 155th session of the UNESCO Executive Board on Culture of Peace and UNESCO’S Action in Member States there was approved Tashkent Declaration developed at a joint initiative of WTO and UNESCO and proclaiming the start of transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace.
On April 21, 1999, in ancient city of Khiva, at WTO and UNESCO Seminar on Tourism and Culture there was adopted Khiva Declaration “On Tourism and the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage” which gave full support to the implementation of the international program entitled “Culture, Spirituality and Tourism for a Culture of Peace”, and which appealed to all member states of WTO and UNESCO, as well as to the other international organizations and institutions, to actively participate in the preservation of the world heritage for generations to come.
On October 28, 2002, at WTO’s Fourth international meeting on the Silk Road, which was held in ancient Bukhara, a “Bukhara Declaration on Silk Road Tourism” was adopted.
The next United Nations World Tourism Organization’s meeting, the Fifth International Meeting on the Silk Road, which took place on October 8-9, 2010 in Samarkand, gave a powerful incentive to promotion of the Silk Road brand in the international tourism market.
Jointly with UNWTO, Uzbekistan Tourism Administration worked out the “Silk Road Action Plan” which was adopted at the UNWTO meeting “Silk Road Tourism Development”.
The Action Plan covers the major issues relating to the Silk Road tourism and outlines the strategic activities in such key focus areas as Silk Road brand marketing and promotion, capacity building and destination management, and travel facilitation.
At the initiative of Uzbek tourism enterprises the best tour operating companies of the Silk Road countries integrated into various groups and associations: The Great Silk Road Tour Operators Group, Silk Road Destinations Group, Silk Road Tourism Association and others, which included the tourism enterprises of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and other Silk Road countries.
Alongside with this, the development of international tourism in the Silk Road region, promotion of the Great Silk Road tourist product in world market imply coordinated actions of national tourist administrations of the Silk Road countries, solving of a range of issues including the program of joint efforts aimed at promotion of multidestination tourist product “the Great Silk Road” in the world tourism markets, further research on sustainability of tourism in the Silk Road countries, enhancement of contacts between tourism enterprises and tourism experts of the region, etc.
Uzbekistan is in position to continue vigorously stimulating the development of tourism in the Silk Road region and international mutual understanding, to strengthen the position of the country in the international tourism market and to create more opportunity for further development of tourism as a whole and the Silk Road tourism in particular.
During the 19th session of the UNWTO General Assembly, which took place 2011 in Gyeongju City of Korea, Uzbekistan was elected as a member of the UNWTO Executive Council for the period 2011-2015. This year Samarkand City was chosen as the venue of the 99th session of the Executive Council of the UN World Tourism Organization.
These examples can be considered a clear recognition by the international community as an important contribution of Uzbekistan to developing world tourism. Uzbekistan is committed to take an active part in the meetings of the Executive Council thereby contributing to its successful work as well as to implementation of the UNWTO’s vision.
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