For a sixth consecutive year, Uzbekistan’s travel and tourism growth have outpaced that of the global economy. Accommodating foreign travel has been at the forefront of the country’s ambitions, and this is evident when considering the positive measures that have been taken.
Home to over thirty-two million people, dominated by a Muslim majority, Uzbekistan is landlocked in central Asia. It shares borders with Kazakhstan in the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the east, and Turkmenistan in the south. Desert plains cover eighty per cent of the 170,000 square mile landmass, meaning the Aral Sea, Amu Darya River and Lakes Sarykamish and Ayddrkul act as the country’s invaluable water sources. In the northeast is the capital, Tashkent. The city is full of contrast, displaying aspects of both tradition and culture, whilst also elements of modernisation and power. Recent years have seen Tashkent and other major cities, such as Samarkand, becoming increasingly more ‘open for business’. Ongoing demand for more Uzbek serviced accommodation exemplifies this.
Archaeological findings suggest Uzbekistan was once home to one of the oldest, ancient civilizations. From then onwards, outsider influence, from the Persian and Mongol Empires plagued the country. The Turks then became the first to convert to a new Uzbek ethnicity in the early fourteenth century. The nation was creating its own identity in central Asia until in the early eighteenth century when the state of Khiva became a vassal to the Russian Empire. Followed was two centuries of predominant Russian control over the land, throughout Bolshevik and Soviet regimes. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that Uzbekistan was granted its own independence. President Karimov ruled controversially up until 2016, but nowadays attention is on tackling corruption and fuelling a promising economy.
Never mind Uzbekistan’s past of corruption and the Soviet struggle, the central Asian state is now full-steam ahead with regard to economic freedom and prosperity. Under the Government’s National Development Strategy (2017-2021), the economy is set to be reshaped, liberalised and open to investment. Recent changes have been vital to ensure this project is executed. Strong foreign relations and trade connections have been beneficial, thanks to a handy geographical position between Europe and Asia (along the New Silk Road). A new change in leadership has sparked aims to banish corruptive behaviour, allowing the economy to grow for the right reasons. Gradual reformation has enabled the transition from a state-controlled to a market-orientated economy, boasting new-found self-sufficiency.
Encouraging foreign investment has been a top priority. Seven special economic zones have been formed, acting as centres for new infrastructure projects and profitable tax incentives. In fact, Uzbekistan plans to cash in its Eurobonds for sakes of new production and infrastructural schemes. Furthermore, business undertaking and investment are open to all, regardless of nationality or sectorial preference. The Ministry of Justice in Uzbekistan created a meticulous department in 2016 which specialises in the protection of foreign investors from unfounded claims. Attention is on creating a positive business environment in Uzbekistan and an increasing number of major city apartments can only make corporate travel even easier in the future. Just be sure to bring enough of the national currency, the Uzbekistani Som (UZS), to fund your trip. For an extensive range of Som exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.
Only citizens of eighteen countries are eligible for visa-free entry into Uzbekistan. Exemption periods range from thirty (e.g. France) to ninety (e.g. Russia) days. An eVisa system was introduced recently though, enabling all EU, US, Australian, Canadian and many more citizens valid entry into Uzbekistan for thirty days. Citizens of over one hundred countries are also eligible for visa-free transit through the country. There are many nationals who are not eligible for eVisas either though, so it is worth visiting the relevant national Uzbekistan embassy website for more information.
Uzbeks have a reputation for being welcoming and friendly towards tourists and business corporates. However, like travelling anywhere, there are precautions that should be taken. This includes carrying your passport at all times, as this is a legal requirement. Also consider, the majority of Uzbeks are Muslim. You should respect all religions. This may mean dressing modestly, avoiding photographing holy sites and not openly opposing local customs. Unfortunately, also worth considering is that homosexuality is illegal under Uzbek law, and you should seek further advice before travelling.
Driving in Uzbekistan has all the potential to be fulfilling, trusting though you prepare for the occasional tricky terrain and bog-standard road conditions. It is worth knowing though that driving is on the right. It is also strongly recommended that you obtain an international driving permit and third-party insurance before travelling. Otherwise, driving is mostly as you would expect for Central Asia. Alternatively, it is common for international corporates to book a driver for their trip or take advantage of conveniently shared taxis. Taxis are frequent, enabling passengers widespread, useful travel, particularly through Uzbek cities.
Uzbekistan has culture and attractions unlike anywhere else worldwide, and there is nowhere better to experience this than the capital Tashkent. Dead centre in the old town, Chorsu Bazaar boasts great traditionality under a grand blue-domed building. Visitors can browse and shop products ranging from Uzbek delicacies to everyday necessities. Surrounding the popular Mustaqillik Maydoni central square is an array of national museums, including the Museum of Arts, the Amir Timur and State Museum of History of Uzbekistan. At these, and many more museums, travellers can relive Uzbek history and embrace some of the country’s finest architecture and artistry. Overlooking all of this is the staggering Tashkent Tower. It dominates the stunning skyline and can provide the perfect end to a day’s exploration.
Do not feel the need to limit yourself to corporate accommodation in the capital though. One of the country’s most significant attractions is the historically famous Great Silk Road. Spanning outside Tashkent and across Uzbekistan, the series of routes collectively contributed to the world’s first commercial highway. Staying in serviced apartments alongside these routes allows visitors the best chance of appreciating such a significant Uzbek landmark. Many foreign arrivals also choose to stay in the ancient city of Samarkand. A true gem of Uzbekistan, Registan is home to a magnificent ensemble of religious buildings and structures, displaying some of the world’s oldest Islamic preservations of the religion. Truthfully though, remnants of Islamic history are all across Uzbekistani cities. It is therefore guaranteed you will never be far from spectacular attractions when staying in Uzbekistan city apartments.
Uzbekistan is fast-emerging as an Asian economic powerhouse. Ambitions for progression, particularly economic, whilst widespread remembrance of the country’s exclusive history, makes Uzbekistan increasingly popular for business travel and serviced apartment living.
Named after the first and previous president of Uzbekistan, Tashkent’s airport is the busiest and largest in Uzbekistan. It serves the capital, located under ten miles from Tashkent’s city centre.
Tashkent’s airport may be the main gateway to Uzbekistan, but Samarkand International Airport (SKD) acts as an alternative, recently built to accommodate international flights. Overall, Uzbekistan Airways has a reputation for offering convenient, good value international and domestic flights, which consequently, are popular and become unavailable if you do not book in advance.
Covering around three thousand miles of track, Uzbekistan’s railway network is perhaps the country’s safest and most comfortable mode of transport, particularly through major cities. It has good connections with bordering countries, including the Transcaspian Railroad which follows the famed Great Silk Road path.
Variety is a key feature of Uzbek railways, offering classes ranging from economy to VIP, and even high-speed trains between the likes of Tashkent and Samarkand. Although most train services are cheap, it is worth investing more to make the most of Uzbek train travel.
Uzbekistan’s capital has the only metro system in the country, beginning operation back in 1977. Today, the subway consists of three lines, flowing through twenty-nine stations. It is greatly beneficial for those conducting business and inter-city to-and-from serviced accommodation in the capital.