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Uzbekistan is ranked second among top tourist destinations in Asia

11 July 2018

It tops Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Nepal, enchanting travellers by its "fascinating mosaic mosques". Since the end of 2017, Uzbek authorities want to develop tourism with new visa schemes, new air routes, and expanded rail network.

Uzbekistan is the second top spot to visit in Asia after South Korea, this according to Lonely Planet, the famous tourist guide.

This is also the first time that the Central Asia country makes it to the top ten Asian destinations, overtaking more traditional and "promoted" places like Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Nepal.

This is not due only to "its fascinating mosaic mosques" but also to the steps taken to improve the conditions for tourism.

By the end of 2017 in fact, the authorities opened up the country's tourism sector, announcing visa-free and e-visa schemes, new air routes, and expanding its rail network.

On the Lonely Planet website, one can read that whilst "Uzbekistan has long held sway over travellers' imaginations", it had "remained largely closed off to the wider world due to tight control following the end of the Soviet era."

Now, an electronic visa system is set to become operational on 15 July, allowing foreigners to apply for 30-day visas online, at a cost of US$ 20.

People from 101 countries will also be able to transit visa-free entry through Uzbekistan for up to five days.

The changes will make it easier for foreigners to visit the country than for Uzbek citizens to leave it.

The latter still have to get a visa to travel beyond the countries of the Community of Independent States (CIS). However, this provision is set to expire by 1 January 2019.