ON MEASURES FOR ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT OF TOURIST SECTOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN

Bukhara-kopiya

The Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

For the purpose of creation of a favorable economic and institutional conditions for intensive development of tourism as a strategic sector of the economy of the country, the most complete and effective use of the enormous tourism potential of the regions, radically improvement of the management of the tourist industry, creation and promotion of the national tourist product on the world markets, and the formation of a positive image of Uzbekistan in the tourism sector:

1. Define the targets and priorities of state policy in the sphere of tourism in the medium term as follows:

  • formation and consistent implementation of an integrated tourism development concept, giving a status of strategic sector of the economy to the tourism, transformation of this industry into a powerful tool for sustainable development, structural transformation and diversification of the economy, which should become a driving force to accelerate the comprehensive development of all regions and related industries, implementation of systematic measures to increase the contribution of tourism into generated Gross Domestic Product, incomes of local budgets, employment, increase the level and quality of the population’s life;
  • further improvement of the legislation and regulatory framework in the sphere of tourist activity, aimed at creation of favorable conditions for the activity of the subjects of the tourist industry, and removal of all obstacles and barriers to the development of tourism, simplification of visa and registration procedures, passport and customs control, optimization of the mechanism of state and market regulation of the tourism industry, implementation of measures to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the sphere of tourism and the development of competition on the market of tourist services, and improvement of statistical accounting systems in the field of tourism;
  • implementation of measures to ensure the safety of life and health of tourists and sightseers in the organization of tourist services, especially in the places of their accommodation, feeding centers, while traveling on the territory of the Republic, arrangement of visits to tourist sites;
  • development and implementation of national and regional programs for the integrated development of domestic, inbound and outbound tourism, aimed at the rapid development of tourism in the country and the most complete and efficient use of the available huge tourist potential, accelerated development, along with the traditional cultural and historical tourism, other potential types of tourism — pilgrimage, ecological, cognitive, ethnographic, gastronomic, sports, medical and health, agriculture, industry, business and other types of tourism, strengthening of the social role of tourism through the development of children, teenagers and youth, family tourism, social tourism for the elderly, creation of new tourist routes in the region, holding their passports, the formation of a unified national registers on tourist routes and tourist sites;
  • expansion of international cooperation in the field of tourist activity, primarily with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), reputable international and national organizations on tourism abroad – active participants on regional and global markets of tourist services, the participation of Uzbekistan in the universal international conventions and agreements that regulate the tourism industry, the introduction of the practice of tourist activities of international and interstate standards and norms;
  • accelerated development of tourist sites in all regions of the Republic meeting the modern international standards, needs and requirements of the tourists — hotels and similar accommodation facilities, catering, transport and logistics structures, information centers, cultural and sports institutions, advancing the construction and reconstruction of transportation and engineering infrastructure, way-side infrastructure on the main tourist routes, wide attraction of foreign investments for these purposes;
  • development, taking into account the trends in the development of international tourism and the use of modern marketing tools, competitive tourism products and services, development of strategies for their promotion in the domestic and international tourist markets, the formation of a positive image of the country in the field of tourism through the creation and development of a comfortable information tourist environment of the general promotional activities, the opening of the tourist information centers in the regions and tourist offices abroad, the active use of the Internet, the annual celebration of the Tashkent International Tourism Fair;
  • radical improvement of the system of quality training of qualified personnel for the tourist industry, especially in the field of management and marketing, training of guides, regular retraining and advanced training of employees of the tourist activity facilities.

2. Create the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism on the basis of “Uzbektourism” National Company which is under the abrogation now.

Determine the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism as the authorized state body in the sphere of tourism.

Entrust the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism with the functions for:

  • licensing of tourist tour operator activities;
  • carrying out, in close cooperation with the national certification body of the Republic of Uzbekistan — the “Uzstandart” Agency, the compulsory certification of tour operators (tourist products), services and hotel services provided by the tourist activity facilities, including the establishment of classification of hotels (motels) of various organizational and legal forms;
  • implementation of inspection control over the compliance of certified tourism services with essential requirements and the standards set in the regulations.
  • therewith, the subjects of certification of certain types of tourist services are also certification bodies of tourist services, accredited by the National Certification System of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
  • resolutions of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism, taken within its authorities, are binding for the bodies of state and economic management, state authorities and local governance, economic entities irrespective of their form of ownership and subordination.

The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall take a Resolution on the arrangement of the activity of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism within a week.

3. The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ministry of Justice, the State Customs Committee, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Architecture and construction, the State Committee of Uzbekistan for nature protection, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, khokimiyats of the regions and Tashkent city, other ministries, agencies and organizations concerned shall submit the Concept of development of the tourism industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the medium term to the Cabinet of Ministers within three weeks on the basis of the the objectives in the sphere of tourism of the state policy priorities determined by the Decree, as well as the Program of specific measures to implement the Concept for 2017-2021.

4. Establish that since January 1, 2017:

  • licensing to carry out tourist activities is subject only to tourist enterprises, providing the arrangement of tourist activity — tourist operators, travel agencies, sightseeing organizations, tourist firms;
  • on acquisition of a license to be engaged in tourist activities the mandatory licensing requirements and conditions are the presence of security systems for the life, health and property of tourists and sightseers, confirmed by a certificate of tourist services;
  • tourist services provided by entities connected with tourist activity are subject to obligatory certification — hotels, motels, camping sites and similar accommodation facilities, with the abolition of the requirements in the presence of a license of hotels and similar accommodation facilities to carry out activities related to the provision of tourist services. At the same time, a compulsory certification for catering and transport companies specialized in servicing of foreign tourists is introduced since the January 1, 2018;
  • services of guides, instructors and conductors can be carried out by individuals or employees of legal persons only after they have received the qualification certificate issued by the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism;
  • tourist enterprises have the right to enter into agreements (contracts) with the subjects of tourist activity for the provision of tourist services to foreign tourists by them only if they have a certificate of conformity.

5. In order to facilitate visa procedures and create favorable conditions for visiting the Republic of Uzbekistan by foreign citizens, the visa system shall be canceled since April 1, 2017:

  • for citizens of Australia, Austria, the Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland and Japan, arriving in the Republic of Uzbekistan for tourist purposes for a period not exceeding 30 days;
  • for the citizens of the Kingdom of Belgium, Indonesia, China (comprising the tourist groups), Malaysia, the USA, France, Vietnam, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic who have reached 55 years of age and entering the Republic of Uzbekistan for tourist purposes for a period of not more 30 days.

Establish that: since April 1, 2017, the foreign citizens referred to in this paragraph, at the entrance to the Republic of Uzbekistan shall pay an entry fee of $50 USD, with its entry to the State budget; a document confirming payment of an entry fee is the basis for entry into the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall submit the procedure of entry fee by foreign citizens for approval to the Cabinet of Ministers up to March 1, 2017.

6. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and other ministries and departments concerned shall submit the specific proposals for approval to the Cabinet of Ministers of specific proposals up to January 1, 2017, as follows:

  • introduction of common tourist visa for all countries, issued for a period up to 30 days;
  • significant simplification of the procedure for acquisition of visas, including transit visas at the international airports and the border checkpoints of the Republic of Uzbekistan;
  • simplification of procedure for acquisition of permits for labor activities in the Republic of Uzbekistan in the sphere of tourism by foreign specialists, as well as providing them with benefits to pay tax on personal income;
  • expansion of the use of modern information and communication technologies in the process of registration and issuance of visas, including the use of “online” system for filling in forms and submission of documents to apply for a visa without a visit to the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Uzbekistan abroad and the consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the introduction of the system of electronic visas since 2018.

7. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade of the Republic Uzbekistan should entrust the advisers on trade issues at the embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan abroad with an obligation to promote the national tourist product and to assist in increasing of the tourist flow to the Republic of Uzbekistan.

8. “Uzbekistan Airways” NAC, “Uzbekistan Railways” JSC in cooperation with the State Border Protection Committee of the National Security Service and the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism shall:

  • take the necessary measures to implement “green corridor” of customs control system for foreign tourists arriving (departing) in the Republic at the international airport of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench with the simplified checking procedure of passport and customs control, baggage check, and transport services up to April 1, 2017;
  • arrange the separate passport control by residents and non-residents in order to create additional facilities for foreign citizens and accelerate the completion of this procedure at airports and railway stations of the Republic;
  • provide the employees of tourist activity subjects, who meeting or accompanying the foreign tourists, with the right of access to the building of airports and train stations by special permits granted in established procedure in compliance with the requirements of security and protective measures;
  • systematically carry out measures to improve the level and quality of services provided to passengers, including free of charge, through the creation and development of comfortable tourist information environment at the airports and railway stations, including the activities of tourist information points, the system of tourist navigation, installation of orientation signs, etc.

9. The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism in collaboration with the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan should create a specialized automated software for record-keeping of guests at hotels and other accommodation facilities in electronic form via the Internet.

10. Set the procedure since January, 2017, according to which:

service payment for accommodation at hotels and other accommodation facilities provided to foreign citizens and stateless persons who do not have permanent residence in the Republic of Uzbekistan, including through the subjects of tourist activity shall be carried out only in freely convertible currency, except in cases when payment for them is made by invited government and government-financed organizations on the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. At this time, tourist fee is paid in the currency of service payment;

  • it is permitted to pay the fee by citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan to tourist operators in freely convertible currency by cash, followed by encashment for cashless payments to foreign partners for the provision of tourist services;
  • tourist operators are exempted from the mandatory sale of proceeds in foreign currency obtained from the provision of tourist services;
  • hotels and other accommodation facilities shall carry out the mandatory sale of 25 percent of proceeds in foreign currency in accordance with established procedure the mandatory sale of 25 percent of proceeds, obtained from the provision of tourist services to foreign citizens;
  • tourist operators accepting tourists, as well as their employees are exempted from liability for breach of legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan by tourists, with the exception of the rules of staying of foreign citizens and stateless persons in the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan established by the relevant legal acts.

11. Advise the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan together with commercial banks to equip the facilities of tourist infrastructure recommended by the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism with terminals for reception of foreign exchange payments.

12. Release from the tax on corporate income tax, land tax and property tax, as well as unified tax payment of legal persons for a period of 5 years, when they put into operation of hotels and motels with level not less than 4 stars, certified in the prescribed manner.

Establish that a charge is collected to the Republican Road Fund under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the amount of 3 percent of the cost of the acquisition of vehicles for purchase of new vehicles for transportation of more than 9 tourists by the subjects of tourist activity.

13. Recognize the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 27, 1992 No.UP-447 “On the formation of “Uzbekturism” National Company” as null and void.

The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the development of tourism in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and other ministries and departments concerned shall submit proposals on changes and amendments to legislation arising from this Decree to the Cabinet of Ministers within two months.

14. Control over execution of this Decree is assigned to the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan R. Azimov.

Acting President of the
Republic of Uzbekistan                                                                              Sh. Mirziyoev

City of Tashkent,
December 2, 2016

* * *

 COMMENT

TO THE DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

OF UZBEKISTAN “ON MEASURES FOR ACCELERATED

DEVELOPMENT OF TOURIST SECTOR OF THE REPUBLIC

OF UZBEKISTAN”

Uzbekistan as a unique country in which territory the ancient civilizations and cultures had emerged and developed; it has huge potential for tourism, which does not yield to the best places in the world for leisure and travel by its attractiveness. Today, there are more than 7000 unique monuments of history and magnificent samples of architecture. The pearl of the rich and diverse nature of the country is its scenic nature reserves and national parks. The country has carefully preserved and developed centuries-old traditions of national culture, art and crafts. Cuisine and culinary traditions well-known in the world are the symbols of hospitality.

In spite of this, the tourist infrastructure of Uzbekistan, the quality and the level of provision of tourism services, as well as the sector management system do not meet modern requirements in the context of globalization and fierce competition. The contribution of tourism to the national economy, and the development of services and providing employment level are behind the world average rates.

Meanwhile, the tourism industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy, the tourism share in the global gross domestic product is more than 10 percent; about 8 percent of the working population of the world are engaged in the sector, and tourist services come to more than 7 percent of the world export.

In this connection, the adopted Decree of the President of Uzbekistan is aimed at ensuring the accelerated development of the tourist industry, giving tourism the status of the strategic sector of the economy, turning it into a powerful tool for sustainable growth of the economy, the efficient use of the tourist potential of the regions to increase the role of tourism in raising the level and quality of the population’s life.

The Decree provides for unprecedented measures to radically reform the tourist industry, which marks the transition to a qualitatively new level of state policy in this field, laying down the following basic targets and priorities:

  • creation of favorable conditions for the activity of the subjects of the tourist industry, the removal of all obstacles and barriers, preventing the development of tourism, simplification of visa and registration procedures, passport and customs control;
  • implementation of a set of security measures of life and health of tourists and sightseers in the arrangement of tourist services;
  • accelerated development of new potential forms of tourism — pilgrimage, environmental, cognitive, ethnographic, gastronomic, sports, medical and health, agriculture, industry, business, child, youth and family tourism;
  • enhancing cooperation with international and national organizations in the tourism sector, large foreign brands and companies, the introduction of advanced international standards of quality of tourist services;
  • accelerated development of modern facilities of tourist infrastructure in the regions of the Republic, first of all, the hotel, transport and logistics, engineering and communication, wide attraction of foreign investments for these purposes;
  • development of competitive tourist products, creation of new tourist routes in the regions, promoting them on the world tourism markets;
  • radical improvement of the system of quality training of qualified personnel for the tourist industry.

With the aim of effective implementation of government policy, arrangement and coordination of implementation of the above targets and priorities, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been established for the development of tourism, with offices and authorized representatives in the regions.

It should be noted particularly that the activity of the State Committee for the development of tourism will be aimed, above all, not to carry out the control and administrative functions, but at all-round promoting entrepreneurial activity in the sphere of tourism, development of competition on the market of tourist services.

The Decree establishes a number of fundamentally new mechanisms of state regulation aimed at improving the licensing, certification and other licensing procedures in the field of tourism.

In particular, licensing functions of tourist activity functions are transferred from the Cabinet of Ministers of the newly created State Committee, at the same time the requirement for a license acquisition by hotels and other accommodation places is canceled since January 1, 2017. In turn, the mandatory certification of catering and transport companies, specializing in provision of services to foreign tourists, in order to ensure the safety of their life and health since 2018.

Important turning point of the Decree, providing for a radical liberalization of the visa policy, aimed at increasing the country’s attractiveness for foreign tourists, is:

  • complete abolition since April 1, 2017 the visa system for tourists from 15 countries, including Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland and Japan, as well as for tourists from 12 countries who have reached 55 years of age and entering the Republic of Uzbekistan for tourist purposes for a period of not more 30 days, including Belgium, Indonesia, China (comprising the tourist groups), Malaysia, the USA, France, Vietnam, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic. Visa-free system will apply to foreign citizens arriving to the Republic for tourist purposes for a period not exceeding 30 days;
  • introduction of common tourist visa for all countries, issued for a period of 30 days, a significant simplification of visa procedures, including the use of “on-line” system for filling in forms for a visa acquisition, as well as the introduction of the system of electronic visas since 2018.

These regulations are designed to enhance the positive image of Uzbekistan in the sphere of tourism, and significantly expand the tourist flow to the country, as well as promote to strengthen business activity in the industry.

A significant factor in the creation of favorable conditions to foreign tourists entering the country is fundamental improvement of the quality and level of services at airports, railway stations and other border checkpoints. For these purposes, the Decree provides:

  • taking the necessary measures to implement “green corridor” of customs control system for foreign tourists at the international airports of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench with the simplified checking procedure of passport and customs control, baggage check, and transport services up to April 1, 2017;
  • arrangement of the separate passport control by residents and non-residents.
  • creation and development of comfortable tourist information environment, including the activities of the tourist information points at the airports and railway stations.

The implementation of the said measures is aimed at ensuring compliance with the quality of services in major transport hubs with the most advanced international standards, increase of international airports and train stations rating.

Another important feature of the Decree are measures to further stimulation of entrepreneurial activity in the sphere of tourism, development of tourist infrastructure, provision of tourist organizations with additional privileges and preferences. In particular:

  • tourist operators are exempted are exempted from the mandatory sale of proceeds in foreign currency obtained from the provision of tourist services;
  • hotels carry out the mandatory sale of 25 percent of proceeds in foreign currency only in accordance with the established order;
  • payment of hotel services by foreign citizens is carried out in freely convertible currency, except in cases when payment for them is made by government and government-financed organizations
  • legal persons when they put into operation of hotels and motels with level not less than 4 stars, are exempted for a period of 5 years from the tax on corporate income tax, land tax and property tax, as well as unified tax payment;
  • on acquisition of new vehicles with a capacity of more than 9 people of subjects of tourist activity, the charge to the Republican Road Fund is reduced from a maximum of 20 percent to 3 percent of the cost of vehicles.

The Decree entrusts the State Committee for Tourism Development together with the departments concerned within three months to submit the Concept of development of the tourist industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the medium term, as well as the Program of specific measures to implement the Concept for 2017-2021 to the Cabinet of Ministers.

In pursuance of the Decree the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been adopted on the arrangement of the activities of the State Committee for Tourism Development, which defines its main tasks and activities, approves the organizational structure and the Regulations on the State Committee, as well as, a number of subordinate organizations to promote the national tourist product, staff training in the field of tourism and certification of tourist services.

The implementation of this Decree will ensure intensive development of tourism as a strategic sector of the economy of the country, able to make a worthy contribution to sustainable development, structural transformation and diversification of the economy, and become a driving force to accelerate the comprehensive development of all regions and related industries, as well as fully promote a more positive image of Uzbekistan as an attractive tourist center.