Uzbekistan safe for visitors!
Uzbekistan has a new plan for reopening the country to tourism. New tourism standards will be combined with the launch of the “Uzbekistan: Safe Travel Guaranteed” campaign. The campaign will welcome international tourists back to Uzbekistan this summer.
Uzbekistan – a $3,000 COVID-free guarantee
President Mirziyoev has declared that any foreign tourist visiting Uzbekistan on a group tour with a local tour operator will be protected by a national guarantee. So certain is he that Uzbekisan is safe, that In the unlikely event that they become infected with COVID-19 during their stay, the tourist will receive $3,000 in financial compensation from Uzbekistan’s Anti-Crisis Fund.
“We want to reassure tourists they can come to Uzbekistan,” explains Sophie Ibbotson, Uzbekistan’s official Tourism Ambassador to the UK. “The government is so confident that the new safety and hygiene measures being implemented across the tourism sector will protect tourists from COVID-19 that the President is prepared to put money where his mouth is: if you get COVID-19 on holiday in Uzbekistan, we will compensate you.”
Tourism businesses across Uzbekistan are improving facilities and services across the board. New standards of sanitary and epidemiological safety are being put in place by Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist establishments.
Uzbekistan safe for low risk countries
Uzbektourism, the State Committee for Tourism, is compiling a register of certified businesses to give tour operators and tourist’s confidence that the places where they will stay, eat, and visit are safe.
Domestic travel within Uzbekistan resumed on 1 June for those travelling between no- or low-infection “green” and “yellow” zones. International flights restarted on 15 June, with arrivals from low-risk countries such as China, Israel, Japan, and South Korea able to enter without restrictions.
Arrivals from the EU and UK are permitted to enter so long as they spend 14 days in self-isolation. This requirement will be waived as soon as these countries get their own infection rates under control.
Uzbekistan safe – they locked down early
Uzbekistan took an aggressive, pre-emptive approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The country closed to tourists on 16 March when there were only a handful of confirmed cases in the country.
Closed borders, grounded flights, and strict lockdown measures have resulted in one of the world’s lowest COVID-19 death rates. Just 19 deaths have been recorded to date, the equivalent to 0.6 per million of the population.
750,000 Uzbekistan people have been tested, and 6,153 were found to be infected with the disease. Of those more than two-thirds have already recovered. New cases are being reported at just 200 a day. The government is confident the epidemic is under control.
President embraces tourism benefits
Since coming to power in 2017, President Mirziyoev has made tourism a priority sector for Uzbekistan. The citizens of more than 80 countries, including the UK, are able to visit Uzbekistan visa-free. International visitor numbers more than doubled from 2017-2019, and last year 6.7 million people visited the republic. Global brands such as the Hyatt and Hilton hotel chains have opened properties in Tashkent.
Uzbekistan Airways has expanded its fleet and route map with direct flights to cities such as London, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, and Milan. In 2019, tourism contributed $1.3 billion to GDP. Although economic growth is expected to slow in 2020 due to COVID-19, the IMF predicts it will be one of very few countries worldwide to avoid recession.
Uzbekistan – an intriguing destination
My last trip to Uzbekistan was in 2017. At the time I knew very little about this country. Our very general plan was to explore a ‘Stan’ – a new exotic country opening up to visitors. A country previously hidden behind the iron curtain of communism.
The visa requirement has gone thank goodness. The visa was expensive and quite difficult to get. You needed to get one in advance before you could enter Uzbekistan. You had to specify exactly where you were going and even have a letter ‘sponsoring’ your visit.
Our first attempt at visiting Uzbekistan actually did not go well at all. We mistakenly assumed that we could buy a visa at the border. We didn’t fly that day, and had to rearrange for months later in August.
Uzbekistan – Metro magic
The second thing is that you can now take photos of the fabulous Metro stations. Previously they were considered ‘sites of military interest.’ You couldn’t take any photographs of these remarkable places.
We sneakily tried to do so, risking the wrath of the military police. They were wandering about everywhere, casually sporting their guns. You even had to show your passport to get on the Metro! On the plus side it cost about 50p to ride anywhere up and down the lines in the smart well air conditioned coaches.
This announcement from the president that Uzbekistan is safe is a huge statement of confidence. If you catch COVID19 when in our country we will give you $3,000 dollars! Some bright spark will probably set out to catch it they can…
Bukhara – Uzbekistan