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Uzbekistan’s US$580 million investment in tourism: a quest for global recognition

The Silk Road Samarkand Tourist Complex in Uzbekistan, constructed for US$580 million, symbolizes the nation’s ambitious aim to attract a significant increase in tourism.

The complex, a new addition to the historic city of Samarkand on the ancient Silk Road, houses eight luxury hotels, 35 restaurants, a conference center, and other amenities designed for vacationers and business travelers.

Despite its attractions, turning Samarkand into a global tourist hub is a daunting task due to factors like limited direct flights and brief visitor stays.

Tourists also have limited awareness of the city’s offerings, as expressed by Dinara Akhmetova, the complex’s marketing and PR director.

In the years following its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan was not a popular destination for foreign tourists.

However, under current leadership, the country has seen a wave of reforms impacting politics, economics, and tourism.

The goal is to welcome 10 million tourists in the next few years through diversification and sustainable practices, including ecotourism and rural travel.

Uzbekistan’s neighbours – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, were the leading sources of inbound tourism.

Efforts are underway to attract higher-spending tourists from China, Russia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Despite a nearly fivefold increase in tourism recently, several challenges, including transportation, accommodation, medical services, language support, and tourist information, need addressing to ensure further growth in the sector.

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