Now is the right time to invest in Uzbek tourism

Uzbekistan is exactly how one can image the best tourism destination to be – crossroad of tradition, history, virgin nature and modernity. Here situated ancient city Bukhara with its world famous, poetry-inspiring minarets and mosques, Samarkand, home to one of the most recognizable monuments in Central Asia, the Registan, a square with three prominent madrasahs, the tomb of Amir Timur at Gur-Emir Mausoleum, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis and the observatory of Ulugbek, wonderful countryside, from the mountains to the canyons and the lush valleys, Only in this country one will witness not only the history but the traditions of long centuries, preserved today. And the hospitable Uzbek people… “Guest is as respected as your father” – hospitality runs in the blood of people living with this principle.
However, the colossal potential of Uzbekistan, the country with such appropriate inventory for the sector of tourism, has not been used effectively and fully for many years. Favorable economic and organizational-legal conditions for development of tourism were not created, activity in the sphere was neglected. 
According to the Decree of the President Mirziyoyev “On measures of ensuring accelerated development of tourism industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan” of December 2, 2016, tourism is defined as a strategic branch of the economy of Uzbekistan.
After this Decree, Uzbek tourism sector has registered important achievements. The incentives provided by the state, have mobilized investors. 
Today the biggest world media and travel experts are recommending visiting Uzbekistan, including it to top tourist destinations of 2019.
Since February 10 2018, a visa-free regime for 30 days has been established for citizens of 64 countries. In addition, the procedure for issuing visas to citizens of 54 countries has been simplified. Electronic visas were introduced from July 1, 2018 for citizens of 51 countries and from February 1, 2019 citizens of 76 more countries will receive such opportunity.
The result of such reforms was immediate: in 2108 the number of foreign tourists arriving in Uzbekistan amounted to 5,3 million people and has increased by almost 2 times compared to 2.69 million in 2017. By 2025, it is planned to increase the number of foreign tourists to 7 million, as well as the annual income from the export of tourist services – up to 2 billion USD.
Recently there has been another historical Decree, "On additional measures to accelerate the development of tourism in the Republic of Uzbekistan". According to it, citizens of 109 countries are provided the right to obtain a residence permit in the Republic of Uzbekistan subject to the acquisition of immovable property; hotels must now offer accommodation “regardless of the place of residence, citizenship, kinship and marital relations of individuals, as well as other factors that restrict the right to privacy”. This means previous restrictions on unmarried couples staying together have been lifted. Tourists may photograph and film all unmarked sites without restriction.
Morevover, have been implemented mechanisms whereby a land allocated for the construction of a hotel after its completion can be sold to the investor on the right of ownership and part of the investors' expenses for the construction and equipping of the new hotel is compensated by the State Budget.
All investors who put into operation hotels with at least 50 rooms before January 1, 2022 will immediately get back 40 million Uzbek soums (5000 USD) for each number in hotels with a category of 3 stars and 65 million Uzbek soums (8150 USD) for each hotel room with a category of 4 stars.
New hotels functioning under top-50 world hotel brands during the first three years will be funded from the State budget with a category of 3 stars - annually in an equivalent of 200 USD per room and with a 4-star category to 400 USD per room.
If to consider that enterprises attracting foreign direct investment in Uzbekistan and specializing in hotel services, tourism services and organization of theme parks are exempted from legal income tax, property tax, improvement tax and development of social infrastructure, as well as mandatory deductions to the Republican Road Fund and specified tax benefits provided according to the volume of direct private foreign investment up to 7 years, it can be stated that Uzbekistan is set to become even bigger in the tourism sector.
 Investment costs here are lower compared to Europe and South Asia for instance. There is a big difference in terms of costs when constructing a hotel in Uzbekistan and in Europe. Thirdly, there are investment incentives as well as operational incentives, like tax exemptions, incentives on interest rates or about the personnel to be employed. Uzbekistan is becoming a desirable destination, a destination people are curious about. And the most important point, there is the biggest advantage here, that one cannot be sure to find in all popular tourism countries – security…
Dilmurod Jumaboyev

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