MINISTER OF CULTURE AND TOURISM
Culture & Tourism I Leader I Uzbekistan 2023
_BIOGRAPHY Shakhrikhan native, born on May 7, 1974, pursued his passion for music by graduating from the Tashkent State Institute of Arts in 2007. Previously, he served as Minister of Culture, Director and Chief Producer of JSC “Yoshlar” TV Channel, the National TV and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, and Soloist of the Ensemble under the National Security Service of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
“THE TOURISM AND TRAVEL INDUSTRY IS A STRATEGIC SECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND A KEY COMPONENT OF THE COUNTRY'S PROSPERITY. THE GOVERNMENT OF UZBEKISTAN HAS SET A GOAL OF MAKING UZBEKISTAN ONE OF THE TOP 30 MOST VISITED COUNTRIES WITH OVER 10 MILLION FOREIGN TOURISTS ANNUALLY.”
WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED SINCE BEING APPOINTED TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
Almost every aspect of the national economy and social life undergone profound changes, renewal, and development in line with modern standards. Major changes are evidenced by the adoption of 4 laws, 37 presidential decrees and resolutions, and 105 decrees and resolutions of the government in the field of culture and art alone. Among them, the Law “On Cultural Activities and Cultural Organizations” on January 20, 2021, is a historic document that strengthens participants' rights, status, obligations, and interests in the cultural sector and of cultural organizations, clarifying many legal terms and issues.
April 15 was designated as the Day of Culture and Art Employees to improve the social status of cultural workers and promote their rights. The newly established “Chamber of Copyright Protection of Artists, Creators and Performers” strengthens the copyright of creative people. Uzbekistan State Philharmonic, Union of Theater Actors, International Festivals Directorate, “Uzbekkontsert”, State Symphony Orchestra, and “Bahor” State Dance Ensemble have been launched to provide high-quality cultural products and services to the population.
In order to restore Uzbekistan's long-standing history and convey forgotten national traditions and values to future generations, Uzbek National Makom Art and Republican Bakhshi Art Centers, Uzbek National Music Institute, and regional makom and bakhshi ensembles have been established. Uzbekistan has initiated and hosts international festivals and forums like Makom Art Festival, Bakhshi Art Festival, “Lazgi” dance, and Handicraft festivals once every two years. Republican competitions in folk instruments and national dance were re-established to preserve rich cultural heritage.
The “Boysun Bahori” International Folklore Festival in the Boysun district, the “Great Silk Road” International Folklore Music Festival in Margilon, and “Nurli navolar” International Festival in Nurota district have become important platforms to discover new talents and encourage youth. The inclusion of “Lazgi” dance of Khorazm” and “Bakhshi Art” in UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity recognizes them as examples of Uzbek people's ancient and unique art.
The preservation of cultural identities and diverse lifestyles is crucial for intercultural dialogue in the globalizing environment. It is worth highlighting that administrative reforms have united the main components of the “soft power” of Uzbekistan into a single ministry, such as culture and art, theater, music, cinema, tourism, heritage, and communities, while preserving the strengths of each field. This unity into a single force will serve the further development of cultural life and become the most important resource for “cultural diplomacy” of Uzbekistan abroad.
HOW CAN THE FULL POTENTIAL OF UZBEKISTAN'S TOURISM SECTOR BE EXPLORED?
Samarkand has been a hub of cultural exchange and trade for thousands of years, and being named the World Tourism Capital for 2023 is a testament to its enduring appeal. It is also a recognition of the transformative reforms and policies implemented in Uzbekistan's tourism sector under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as evidenced by the upcoming 25th anniversary session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in Samarkand.
Uzbekistan's tourism sector has already seen positive results from efforts to improve the hospitality industry and promote the country's tourism potential, including a threefold increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2022 compared to the previous year, as well as a significant increase in tourism services exports and domestic travel. To further develop the industry, we will focus on several key priorities.
First, we will develop and promote new travel products that showcase Uzbekistan's unique nature, rich culture and art, craftsmanship, and gastronomy. Second, we will increase promotion of each region of Uzbekistan, including untapped destinations and potential tour routes. Third, we will improve hospitality and recreation infrastructure by implementing sustainable solutions and enhancing the quality of services. Lastly, we will increase connectivity between popular destinations in Uzbekistan.
At a recent meeting chaired by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, important measures were identified to achieve these priorities and meet our targets for this year, which include attracting seven million foreign and twelve million domestic tourists and generating two billion US dollars in tourism services exports. We will provide the necessary financial and administrative support to ensure that these targets are met and Uzbekistan's tourism sector can continue to thrive.
WHAT MEASURES ARE BEING TAKEN TO POSITION THE COUNTRY AS ONE OF THE REGION’S MOST ATTRACTIVE TOURISM DESTINATIONS?
Uzbekistan's rich cultural heritage, rooted in its status as one of the world's oldest civilizations, continues to evolve and adapt to modern times. The Ministry is actively working on scientific and practical initiatives to support this process. A presidential resolution is being developed to establish a scientific-research institute of cultural studies and intangible heritage, an ethno-folklore laboratory, and expeditions. In addition, the Ministry has introduced a "Month of National Values" every March to promote the transformation of ancient cultural heritage into modern society. The Ministry is also supporting digitalization efforts through platforms such as "Kadriyat," and creating new momentum in the field of culture.
WHAT ARE THE INITIATIVES BEING IMPLEMENTED BY YOUR MINISTRY IN 2023/24 IN THIS DIRECTION?
One of the main objectives of the Ministry in 2023-2024 is to increase public participation in preserving and developing culture, art, literature, and heritage. To achieve this, it is crucial to support local and foreign entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and companies who are interested in contributing to these areas. The Ministry aims to promote patronage and philanthropic activities among those who admire the heritage, culture, and art of Uzbekistan, and create favorable legal conditions to encourage social contributions by businesses.
I would like to reiterate that the tourism and travel industry is a strategic sector of the national economy and a key component of the country's prosperity. The Government of Uzbekistan has set a goal of making Uzbekistan one of the top 30 most visited countries with over 10 million foreign tourists annually. To achieve this goal, significant benefits and support programs have been provided to local and foreign tourism businesses. These include tax reductions of up to 90%, tax exemptions for several years, soft loans for infrastructure projects, subsidies for hotel construction, cashback programs for local tourists, and tax-free benefits for foreign visitors.
Despite the pandemic, the tourism industry in Uzbekistan has continued to grow. In 2020, 188 investment projects worth 410 million US dollars were implemented, while in 2021, 495 projects worth 1.1 billion US dollars were carried out. Last year, this number increased to 735 projects worth 2.2 billion US dollars. This sustained growth in investment is a testament to the confidence of local and foreign businesses in the tourism sector of Uzbekistan. With a population of 36 million people, Uzbekistan is a stable and high-profit margin destination for hotels, restaurants, resorts, campgrounds, and other types of entrepreneurship. Therefore, I invite all readers of "The Investor Uzbekistan 2023" to visit our wonderful country and explore the untapped opportunities for your business to grow. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is committed to being your trusted partner in achieving success in Uzbekistan.
Welcome to Uzbekistan!