During the Soviet Union, all domestic and international tourism was handled through the Moscow-centered “Intourist” (abbreviation of “international tourist”) company and its branches dispersed throughout the 15 soviet republics.
Intourist promotional brochures
In 1992 following independence, Uzbekistan established its own national company, “Uzbektourism” through which it implemented “a unified state policy in sphere of tourism.”
Uzbek transportation system went through a series of important upgrades in infrastructure of its airports, railroads and roads. In order to develop the tourism and service industry, the companies providing tourist services were granted tax exemptions and other benefits. The “Uzbektourism” developed its own logo and brand.
The company also developed its official website, welcomeuzbekistan.uz where currently visitors can search for information in six languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Korean and Russian (Chinese, Italian and Japanese are in progress).
In 2013 the company created an advertising campaign to attract more tourists from Europe by running special promotional one minute videos about Uzbekistan on Euronews channel.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the number of tourists to Uzbekistan has increased from 92,000 in 1995 to almost 2,000,000 in 2014; and it predicts the number of visitors to increase two-fold by 2025. Based on WTTC 2014 country report, “direct contribution” of tourism sector is 0.9% of total GDP, with “total contribution” of 3.0% to the GDP and total contribution of 387,500 jobs (2.6% of total employment). In the WTTC world ranking, Uzbekistan is placed 119 in absolute and 178 in relative GDP contribution out of 184 countries.
Uzbekistan ranking in the WTTC 2014 country report
Uzbekistan is making a steady progress in its tourism industry but remains low in the world ranking. One of the suggestions to attract more visitors would be to introduce visa free regime to its closest neighbors. However, because of security concerns and territorial border disputes between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, access to roads and railways across borders is not permitted and blocked (even mined) in some areas. The unresolved issues hinder not only the growth of travel and tourism industry and the overall economic development but also the integration efforts in the region leading to isolation and mistrust between the states.
Aleksandra Kim, Analysis and Perspective of Tourism Development in Uzbekistan (May 2014) University of Santiago de Compostela. Retrieved from http://www.agaliasociacion.org/5.%20Aleksandra.pdf
Roman Muzalevsky, Border Disputes in the Ferghana Valley Threaten to Undermine Regional Trade and Stability (August 1, 2014). Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 141. Retrieved from http://www.jamestown.org/programs/edm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=42706&cHash=53b6bf8f36b41d6221ada47e0516dfeb#.VtPHXvkrLIU
National Company “Uzbektourism” www.uzbektourism.uz
Postcards from Uzbekistan playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4lX8Nxwcv7wNEY2GKrZk4hXhP4sYPbev
World Travel & Tourism Council, Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2015: Uzbekistan. Retrieved from https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact%20research/countries%202015/uzbekistan2015.pdf