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Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Russia B. Ashrafkhanov: the flow of Russian tourists has almost doubled

In Uzbekistan, great importance is attached to the promotion of the tourist potential and the brand of the country abroad. In this process, an important role is played by the activities of the diplomatic representations of the republic in foreign countries. So, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of our country in the Russian Federation Bahrom Ashrafkhanov in an interview with UzA shared some results of the work in this area.

- President Shavkat Mirziyoyev conducts an active policy of development of the tourist potential of our country, creating favorable economic and organizational and legal conditions, facilitating visa regulations for tourists from a number of countries. What efforts are being made by the diplomatic mission of Uzbekistan in this direction?

- The embassy carries out complex work directed to increase the flow of tourists from Russia to our country. In particular, since the beginning of 2018
8 presentations of the potential of Uzbekistan and more than 30 bilateral meetings with representatives of the tourist industry of the host country have been held.
At these events we exchange experience and establish close contacts with the organizations of the sphere.

Due to the vast territory of Russia, we are continuously working to acquaint the regions of the Russian Federation with the opportunities of Uzbekistan in this area. As a result, presentations were successfully held in March in St. Petersburg, in April in Tver, a visit of the delegation of the Bukhara region to the Vladimir region was organized, connections between the hokimiyat of the Tashkent region and the State Committee of the Republic of Tatarstan on tourism were established.

Today we continue to acquaint the Russians with the opportunities of the Samarkand, Ferghana and other regions.

- Uzbekistan is studying the best practices of other states in the field of tourism. What platforms do you think are effective for promoting the potential of our country?

- Now the most effective ways to promote the tourism potential of Uzbekistan is to participate in international exhibitions and forums, gastronomic weeks in various cities of Russia. Web-resources, advertising activities in the media and social networks also contribute to an increase in the tourist flow. In addition, it is worth noting the need to establish bilateral contacts with Russian travel companies for further B2B and B2C meetings on their sites.

- As a rule, tourists spend their holidays with their families and children.
At the same time, Russians' favorite activities are bathing, sightseeing, visiting cafes and restaurants, and shopping. What kinds of tourism can Uzbekistan offer the Russian travel fan?

- Recently, family tourism has become increasingly popular. It is not only an entertaining pastime and communication of family members, but also an opportunity to learn something new about the country, the cities that have not yet been visited. In Uzbekistan there are many attractive places with amazing nature and rich cultural and historical heritage of the people.

Russian tourists may also be interested in the following areas: gastronomic, medical, pilgrimage, youth, sightseeing, as well as sports tourism.

- The presence in Uzbekistan of over 7,000 objects of material cultural heritage of different epochs and civilizations, including historical centers of Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand and Shakhrisabz included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, turns pilgrimage tourism into a very promising direction. What is being done by the embassy to familiarize Russian Muslims with the conditions created for the pilgrimage on the holy places of our country?

- Russia is a multiethnic state. And people profess a variety of religions. Today, Russia is on the 21st place in the ranking of countries with the largest number of Muslim residents who make up 20 percent of the total population. In this regard, we regularly hold meetings with representatives of the Spiritual Board of Muslims, familiarize ourselves with the opportunities created in Uzbekistan (for example, we are informing about the introduction of the "halal" standards, the organization in the tourist zones of rooms for ablution and prayer).

One of the most striking events in this direction was the holding of the "Evening of Uzbekistan" by the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Moscow in the Memorial Mosque on Poklonnaya Hill in late May. The event was attended by about
500 representatives of state, public, religious circles, diplomatic representations of Muslim countries, the media, as well as citizens of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.

- The term "familiarization tour" is familiar to specialists of the national tourism industry. Are there any infotours or press tours for Russians?

- The press tour is a PR-service planned event specially designed for journalists, which is held to obtain objective journalistic publications in the media. The reason for such a tour can serve as a need to familiarize the public with the activities of the organization, as well as any significant event in which the organization directly participates. It is in this direction that the embassy is carrying out large-scale work. Since the beginning of the year 4 press tours have been conducted, and 4 more are at the development stage.

In particular, trips to Uzbekistan of the film crew of the "Let's go, let’s eat" by NTV channel, headed by TV presenter John Warren, the "My Planet" TV channel, as well as Russian bloggers and photographers, led by the director of the “KnowHowMedia” agency, Julia Schukina.

- The promotion of tourism in the international market should be approached with careful preparation, conducting controlled experiments and taking into account the growth strategy. What are the embassy plans in the near future to promote the image of Uzbekistan among the Russians?

- Recently, a joint competition with the well-known culinary and photographer Stalik Khankishiyev, a contest among Russians to prepare Uzbek dishes, was launched. The main prize is a trip to Uzbekistan.

The diplomatic mission also plans to actively conduct events, including seminars, presentations, roundtables, "days of culture" and exhibitions, within the framework of which the tourist potential of our country will be presented.

We will continue to work on establishing partnership relations between the Association of Private Tourist Organizations of Uzbekistan and the largest Russian associations, unions and federations of tourism organizations and the elaboration
of potential participants of the XXIV Tashkent International Tourism Fair "Tourism on the Silk Road".

- The Embassy is actively working to promote the tourism industry
in Uzbekistan. What would you single out among the important achievements of the diplomatic mission this year?

- As you know, an overseas institution is a part of your country in other states.
It represents interests in political, economic and financial spheres, in the field of legal relations, and also in science, education and culture.

Tourism today is a strategic direction and an important component of the country's economy. In this regard, we strive to show the best results of our activities. Among important achievements, I would note the signing in March of the Agreement between the Association of Tourism Organizations of Russia (ATOR) and the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development. Head of ATOR Maya Lomidze highly appreciated the potential of our country and expressed hope to a significant increase in the flow of tourists from Russia.

I would like to quote figures on this score. If we compare the number of tourists who visited Uzbekistan for 5 months of the past and current years, it can be noted that the flow has almost doubled. So, over the past months of this year more than 142 thousand Russians have visited our country. 
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