Uzbekistan - Country Commercial Guide
Travel and Tourism

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-10

Overview

Located in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is ready to expand its travel and tourism industry with its rich cultural and historical heritage, friendly people, and natural beauty.  The government of Uzbekistan views its tourism sector as having high growth potential. Uzbekistan was closed to foreigners for many years, and the government has initiated reforms to open access to its rich cultural and historical heritage to facilitate tourism development. The tourism industry was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020-2021 and hospitality service providers and other sector participants received state support in different forms. As of March 2021, Uzbekistan has established a visa-free regime for citizens of 90 countries and e-visas for citizens of 57 countries, including the United States. The government’s goal is to grow tourism services from $1 billion in 2018 to $2.2 billion in 2025. This will require massive investments in infrastructure – in February 2021, the President allocated $100 million for tourism infrastructure development - and hospitality education, and attraction of global hotel brands. The development plan calls for government-subsidized construction of three- and four-star hotels with at least 50 rooms, increasing the total number of rooms from 20,200 (2018) to 64,000 (2025). Projected investments in the tourism industry of the capital city Tashkent in 2021-2023 amount to $903.6 million ($739.5 million of which are foreign investments) and include 90 projects: 66 hotels, 12 shopping and entertainment centers, 9 parks, and 3 artisan centers. The government is also developing pilgrimage tourism. In 2021 Uzbekistan ranked 16th out of 140 countries in the Global Muslim Travel Index.

To bring in more foreign travelers, the Ministry of Transport is modernizing and expanding the airports, and will select foreign companies for airport reconstruction and management on a tender basis. Uzbekistan Airports was separated from the Uzbekistan Airways in 2019 and controls Uzbekistan’s 11 international airports. The government has promised to liberalize the national aviation market by breaking up Uzbekistan Airways’ monopoly and creating more domestic companies (in February 2021, the Qanot Sharq private airline signed a lease agreement with Air Lease Corporation for two used Airbus A320-200 aircraft and plans to have three A320 and three A330 aircraft operating in its fleet in 2021), while authorizing foreign companies to operate in Uzbekistan. The government intends to purchase short- and medium-haul aircraft to develop the regional passenger air transportation market. Uzbekistan Airways’ current air fleet consists of 35 aircrafts.

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 estimated

Total Local Production

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total Exports*

1,041

1,413

261

N/A

Total Imports

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Imports from the US

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total Market Size

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Exchange Rates**

8,068

8,839

10,056

10,600

*Earnings of Uzbekistan from incoming tourists.
** Exchange Rates = Uzbek soums per $1.
Units: $ millions
Source: The State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Hospitality
  • Airports
  • Aircraft

Opportunities

Foreign investors will find the most opportunities in the hospitality sector.  International hotel brands are currently found only in the capital city of Tashkent, but there is a great demand for hotels and global franchises in Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva - the central cities of the ancient Silk Road and major tourism destinations. The government wants to attract foreign investment and management services to the airports as public-private partnerships with an exemption from customs duties and 50% reduction in income and property taxes for three years. Uzbekistan’s expansion plans for its fleet of short- and medium-haul aircraft should create business opportunities for manufacturers.

For specific opportunities, businesses should contact organizations involved in Uzbekistan’s tourism industry, including the State Tourism Development Committee, Uzbekistan Airways, Uzbekistan Airports and Ministry of Transport.

Resources

U.S. companies and individuals interested in learning more about upcoming procurements and export opportunities are encouraged to conslt the following resources: