BFF-15 Uzbekistan extends visa-free travel to Germans in tourism bid

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BFF-15

UZBEKISTAN-GERMANY-TOURISM-TRAVEL

Uzbekistan extends visa-free travel to Germans in tourism bid

TASHKENT, Jan 4, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Uzbekistan said Friday it will allow
German citizens to visit for up to 30 days visa-free to boost tourism as the
ex-Soviet country emerges from long-term isolation.

Germany will be the second European Union country after France to gain
visa-free travel to Uzbekistan, which has opened up somewhat since the death
of its long-reigning hardline leader Islam Karimov in 2016.

Germans will be able to enter the central Asian nation visa-free from
January 15, the Uzbek tourism committee said Friday, three months after
authorities granted French citizens the same 30-day visa waiver.

The impoverished country is highly dependent on commodity exports and has
made developing tourism a priority.

In particular the government is keen to show off the lavish Silk Road
heritage of cities such as Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand.

According to the Uzbek tourism committee, 18,094 Germans visited Uzbekistan
in 2018, almost five times as many as in 2016.

Reform-touting Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev is set to visit Germany
this month after meeting US President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel
Macron last year.

These high-profile visits are seen as rewards for his steps towards greater
openness following the death of Karimov, under whom Mirziyoyev served as
prime minister for 13 years.

The current president has reversed a number of policies that hampered the
tourism sector in recent years.

Among the restrictions he scrapped was a ban on photography in the capital
Tashkent’s ornate metro that had led to police detentions of unsuspecting
tourists.

Mirziyoyev’s bid to boost tourism in the immediate aftermath of Karimov’s
death suffered a false start, however.

In December 2016, he issued an order easing or cancelling visa requirements
for visitors from 27 developed countries but this was reversed a month later
before actually coming into force.

The reversal was attributed to resistance within the powerful security
apparatus.

Uzbekistan offers visa-free entry to citizens of Turkey, Israel, Indonesia,
South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan, in addition to long-standing
reciprocal visa-free entry for citizens of most former Soviet countries.

BSS/AFP/SSS/1855 hrs