Uzbekistan gives visa-free entry to visitors from 45 countries

TASHKENT (AFP) – Uzbekistan yesterday granted visa-free entry to citizens of 45 countries to boost tourism, which the government views as vital for economic growth.

The countries benefiting from a 30-day visa waiver that went into force yesterday include the majority of European countries including Britain as well as Australia, Canada, Argentina and Chile. The United States is a notable exception.

The impoverished ex-Soviet country has made tourism a priority to reduce its dependence on commodity exports.

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

Earlier this year, Uzbekistan granted a 30-day visa waiver to Germany while France became the first European Union country to benefit from the measure last year. Uzbekistan’s tourism committee said last month that annual visitor numbers for 2018 were 5.3 million, double the figure for 2017.