Samarkand Hosts World Tourism Forum
The international forum is attended by representatives of UNWTO member nations, specialists from dozens of countries with advanced travel industry, including the United States, France, Spain, Germany, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia, among others, along with leaders of international tourism organizations and experts.
President Islam Karimov delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the session.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO, expressed earnest gratefulness to the head of our state for special attention to hosting the 99th session of organization’s Executive Council in Samarkand.
Tourism is assigned the function of a peculiar bridge among the cultures of the world’s peoples and is one of the most profitable and dynamically progressing sectors of economy. Currently, more than 235 million people are employed in this filed. According to UNWTO data, the number of tourists worldwide has been increasing every year by 4-5 percent.
In the independent development years, Uzbekistan joined the ranks of advanced nations with modern tourism infrastructure. The influx of tourists arriving to our country has been growing consistently. The cities of world renown like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva host meetings at the highest level, international conferences, and prestigious sporting competitions.
The peace and harmony reigning in Uzbekistan, the atmosphere of mutual respect and concord, the famed Uzbek hospitability, the modern hotels and recreation areas, the high quality services create an environment and opportunities conducive for exciting leisure.
Uzbekistan wields an enormous tourism potential and ranks in the world’s top ten countries in terms of historic monuments. Our country houses in excess of seven thousand historic and cultural monuments. Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Shahrisabz are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ecological tourism, geo-tourism, extreme, medical and cultural tourism, travels on horseback, camelback, by car, as well as alpinism, fishing, rafting have been on the rise.
As a result of the elaboration of new tour routes, construction of international and local airports, perfection of transport communications, the inflow of tourists from abroad has been increasing. In 2011-2013, their number grew by 129.5 percent. The volume of tour services rose by 175.8 percent, while their exports increased by 180.2 percent. At the level of world standards the tourists are served by more than a thousand national travel organizations, in particular 550 tour agencies, over 500 hotels.
Thanks to the colossal creative works carried out in the country, dozens of high-class hotels have been erected to be able to receive foreign guests and delegations and provide them with services meeting contemporary requirements. A network of private hotels for smaller groups and family travelers has been created along with hotels offering services under such world-renowned brands as Radisson, Lotte, Dedeman, Grand Plaza, among others.
The steadily advancing air and rail transport allows for the organization of travel with speed, comfort and safety. The high-speed Afrosiyob train that began running between the capital city and Samarkand in 2011 is pretty convenient for passengers, especially tourists.
Uzbekistan Airways has its own well-deserved position in the international market of air transportation. Eleven international airports are operating currently in Uzbekistan. Modernization of the flying stock and airports, and expansion of the geography of shipping are instrumental in the development of tourism and attraction of travelers to our country.
The 10 October 2012 resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan on measures to further support and develop tourism in the country constitutes an important guideline for action in the advancement of the sphere and tour infrastructure and in the active promotion of national tourism services at the international market.
Uzbektourism National Company, Uzbekistan Airways National Air Company, Uzbekistan Railways State Joint-Stock Company and other organizations are regular in traditional biggest international fairs as part of the national stand “Uzbekiston”. This allows the tour organizations of our country to establish new contacts with foreign partners and build up mutually advantageous cooperation.
The development of tourism is by and large contingent on the qualification of cadres in the sector. Specialists in fields like tourism marketing and management, provision of tour services, international tourism, hospitality business are trained currently at the Tashkent State University of Economics, Samarkand Institute of Economics and Services, Management Development Institute of Singapore in Tashkent, in tourism colleges of the capital city, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
Each region of our country is distinct with its tour attractions, folk traditions and customs, historical monuments, picturesque nature and favorable climate. Owing to the growth in population incomes and the perfection of tour infrastructure, internal tourism has also been on the rise. Building on the peculiarities and capacities of each province, targeted programs are implemented. For instance, in regions with smaller number of historical monuments, emphasis is placed on ecological tourism, geo-tourism, off-road travels, while mountain zones are conducive for extreme tourism. In line with region-targeted programs, objects of cultural heritage are restored, tour facilities are built and reconstructed, new routes are elaborated, and the activities of travel organizations are being refined.
Uzbekistan acceded to the UNWTO in 1993. Samarkand houses a regional center of the organization for the promotion of tourism on the Great Silk Road. During the UNWTO General Assembly in 2011 in South Korea, Uzbekistan was elected for the second time as member of the Executive Council of this organization. Very few nations of the world have been honored with such a status.
The decision to hold the next, 99th session of the UNWTO Executive Council in Samarkand was taken at the 98th session that took place in June 2014 in Spain’s Santiago de Compostela.
This ancient and eternally young city, called the Ornament of the Face of the Earth and the Pearl of the East, has from time immemorial attracted with its exceptional beauty and magnificence. The antique monuments and modern buildings of the town and its picturesque nature enhance the capacities for the development of tourism.
In the words of our country President, each and every inch of the land of Samarkand is associated with a legend, while each street, square and alley has its inimitable appearance. Each and every rock in the buildings of this ancient and the eternally young city embodies the great creative talent and mastery of our people and its enduring values.
In independence years, Samarkand has become even more beautiful and magnificent. Timed to the 660th birthday anniversary of Amir Temur and the 600th of Mirzo Ulugbek, titanic construction works were undertaken in Samarkand. A splendid monument to the Sahibkiran was erected in the city center. The Observatory and Madrassah of Mirzo Ulugbek underwent restoration works. The 18 October 1996 presidential decree awarded the city of Samarkand with the Amir Temur Order. Ever since, this date is marked as the Day of Samarkand.
Initiated by the head of our state, immense efforts have been spearheaded to restore the original historical appearance of Samarkand and boost its economic capacities. The 2,750th anniversary of the town was widely celebrated in 2007. As part of preparations for the celebration of this resplendent holiday, this eternal city has transformed to a great extent. The dozens of erected social and public facilities, education institutions and sports complexes, medical centers and hotels, highways, gardens and squares have served for the creation of a proper environment for the residents and guests of Samarkand and afforded it a more magnificent appearance. The mausoleums of Amir Temur and Ruhobod, the Registan Complex, the mosques of Hazrati Hizr and Bibi-Khanum, the Shahi-Zinda Monument, the Mirzo Ulugbek Observatory have undergone complete reconstruction and restoration. The layout of a minor ring-road connecting them has created additional convenience for city dwellers and tourists.
The tour capacities of Samarkand serve as an important factor in driving the city’s economy into progress and providing the local population with jobs. More than a hundred travel agencies and around a hundred hotels operate currently in town.
The 99th session of the UNWTO Executive Council is another favorable opportunity for the wider familiarization of the world community with the tremendous potential of our country in tourism, and it will serve for the further expansion and consolidation of cooperation with foreign tour organizations and companies. The meeting will also allow the leading experts of the entire world to discuss the current state, the prospects and trends in the evolution of global tourism market, its pressing issues, and to define new dimensions of interaction.
Participants of the international forum got familiar with the Registan Complex, the mausoleums of Amir Temur and St Daniel, the Mirzo Ulugbek Observatory, the Afrosiyab Museum and other sightseeing, as well as modern education institutions in the city. The guests voiced their high appraisal of the wide ranging construction and beautification works undertaken in Samarkand during independence years under the leadership of the country’s President, the immense tourism potential of the town, and the particular significance attached to training specialists for the travel industry.
At the plenary meeting of the session, participants heard and discussed reports into such topics as the Great Silk Road and new prospects in the evolution of international tourism, educating specialists and raising the proficiency of personnel in the sphere, the role of tour routes in the stimulation of regional development and integration, the current state and prospects of the development of international tourism, and other subject matters.
The event also serves for the exchange of views and experience with foreign specialists on issues related to boosting the inflow of tourists into Uzbekistan, and for the discussion of tasks pertinent to the enhancement of international cooperation on this front.
The international conference continues its work on October 3.
Iroda Umarova, Nodira Manzurova, Gholib Hasanov, photo by Sarvar Urmonov, Alo Abdullaev, UzA