Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Uzbek Tourism: a comprehensive Analysis


                                
 Fig 1: photo of Uzbekistan. Source: traveltourist.net
         

Uzbekistan is a central Asian country rich in culture and heritage and blessed with exotic landscapes. Prior to becoming a free state in 1991, it was the part of USSR. Though considered as a lower middle income, developing nation; it is enjoying a high GDP growth rate and a high literacy of 99 percentages.  It is one of the two doubly land locked (a land locked country surrounded by land locked countries) countries in the world. The other is Liechtenstein. Uzbekistan aspires to become a tourist hub par excellence. The given report will analyze Uzbekistan as a tourist hub, its present status and its future potential.

Uzbekistan: country profile

The following part of report will give a brief description of Uzbekistan across economical and social parameters.

Fig 2: shows GDP growth rates of Uzbekistan Vis a Vis World, from 2000-10. Source:  World Bank



Fig 3: shows the GDP (PPP) of Uzbekistan in US $ billions from 2002-10. Source: World Bank


Table 1: shows values for Uzbekistan for some selected social parameters.


Uzbekistan: Tourism statistics

The following charts will show the tourism statistics of Uzbekistan




Fig 4: shows the tourism receipt for Uzbekistan for 2007-10, in US $ millions. Source: Euromonitor

Fig 5: shows total no. of world heritage sites in Uzbekistan in comparison to other countries in the nearby region of Central Asia, Europe and Middle East. Source: UNESCO


Table 2:  Hotel statistics for Uzbekistan. (Figures are based on the data generated by a website called “Sairam Travels” & may not be exactly correct.)
Fig 7: shows the aircraft departure statistics (most recent by countries). Source: nationmaster.com


Fig 8: shows the per capita emission of CO2 in Metric Tons for Uzbekistan, in comparison to other countries in the nearby region of Central Asia, Europe and Middle East. Source: World Bank

Uzbekistan: types of tourism
Uzbekistan has huge potential for developing into an exotic tourist destination. The Central Asian country is blessed with plethora of archaeological sites and exotic landscapes. The govt. of Uzbekistan is seeking huge investments in developing infrastructure and promoting the county as a great tourist destination. Around 85 percentage of the tourist visiting the nation are 55 or above. (eturbonews.com, 2011). They like the calm and serene atmosphere of Uzbek cities and come here for visiting archaeological sites and monuments dating back to Alexander & Zoroastrian era. Major tourist cities are- Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva etc. Major tourism period is April, May and September, October. The major types of tourism in Uzbekistan are as follows:

·         Cultural and Historical tourism: tourism in Uzbekistan is primarily centered on cultural tourism. Situated on the cross roads of Silk Road, Uzbekistan is home to around 4000 historical and architectural monuments. It has a plethora of archaeological sites to offer- mosques, mausoleums, palaces, forts, ruined Buddhist temples, monasteries & statues etc.

·         Recreational, Adventure and Nature tourism: Uzbekistan has a wide range of contrasting landscapes & natural beauties - mountains, valleys, desserts, forests, rivers etc. It offers various types of adventure activities such as- trekking, mountain climbing, water sports, river rafting, safaris, bird watching, hunting, fishing, horseback riding etc.  It also has lot of mineral rich springs; hence making it great potential hub for recreational tourism.



·         Business tourism: this fastest growing central Asian country is a potential hub for business related/ MICE activities (meetings, incentive travels, conferences and exhibitions). Fast GDP growth rate, plenty of oil, natural gas and minerals along with an availability of a gamut of cultural & natural offerings can transform it into a regional business tourist’s hub.

·         Religious and Spiritual tourism: many tourists visit Uzbekistan for religious and spiritual purpose. It has a wide range of religious sites such as mosques, tombs, Sufi shrines etc. There are more than 160 Muslim relics located in Uzbekistan.

·         Dental & Medical tourism: Uzbekistan has established state of the art dental clinics in Tashkent and other major cities in the country. These clinics are equipped with top quality, instruments & human expertise.  One of the remarkable feature of these clinics are that- these are much economical than clinics in Europe and Russia.  


UZBEKISTAN: WEB PRESENCE

The following charts and figures will show the web presence of brand Uzbekistan.

Fig 4: shows the number of search results in millions, for Google and Yahoo, on typing, tourism in .   All the nations in the list are developing nation, with population lying between 2o to 40 millions. 

Fig 9: shows number of reviews in Trip Advisor, related to various countries along with Uzbekistan. Source: Trip Advisor. 

Fig 10: shows, number of search result in You Tube, on typing , for instance: Poland tourism. Source: You Tube. 

UZBEKISTAN TOURISM: SWOT ANALYSIS

The following part will do a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis of tourism industry in Uzbekistan.


Strengths

·         Uzbekistan is witnessing high GDP growth rate. Since 2005, its GDP is growing with more than 7 percentages.
·          It has plethora of archaeological sites and natural beauties to offer.
·         It enjoys strong social infrastructure. For instance the literacy rate is exorbitantly high at 99 percentages.
·         The cities of Uzbekistan are known to be calm and peaceful, often loved by cultural lovers and senior tourists.
·         Strategically Uzbekistan is placed on the cross roads of the silk route. Situated in central Asia, it is close to Europe, cash rich Gulf States as well as emerging powers like Russia, China and India.
·         Govt. at Uzbekistan is keeping tourism  high up on their agendas.

Weakness   

·         So far the tourism receipt and arrival have been abysmally low. Uzbekistan still has a long way to go to catch up other major tourist destinations such as Turkey, UAE and Greece in the region.
·         Uzbekistan is definitely placed in a strategic location, favorable for tourism industry, but it also a region blessed with some heavy weights of tourism industry. The Middle East & Central Asia region has two of the top 10 visited cities of the world- Dubai & Istanbul. (enjoyourholiday.com, 2011)
·         Uzbekistan’s tourism industry has abysmally low web presence; as depicted by figure 8,9  and 10, it is even much lower than places like Syria and Romania, not considered as popular tourist destination.  
·         Across the world there is a perception that Uzbekistan offers only cultural & archaeological sites to visit. The adventurous and recreational aspects are still vastly unknown. (eturbonews.com, 2011)
·         It lacks state of the art airlines, convention centers and hotels to bolster its ambition. For instance take the example of small Gulf state UAE, which has got some world class airlines, hotels and convention centers such as- Emirates, Etihad, DWTC, ADNEC, Burj al Arab, Emirates palace etc.  In contrast to this, Uzbekistan does not have such resources.     

Opportunities   
·         The govt. of Uzbekistan is implementing strong measures to promote it as a tourist destination. This will surely influence the industry in the coming time.
·         There are many unexplored tourist places in Uzbekistan. With the help of better marketing strategy, there true potential could be realized.
·         With large amount of mineral sources and spring in the mountain region, Uzbekistan has huge potential for recreational tourism.
·         There are also lot of potential for other forms of tourisms- medical (dental), business and adventure.
·         Uzbekistan is close to 3 of the 4 BRIC nations (Russia, India & China) both geographically as well as culturally. These nations moving along high growth trajectories will constitute a major portion of the outbound tourism in the coming time.  Geographical proximity along with well integrated communication strategy can help Uzbekistan win a substantial pie of outbound tourists from these nations.  

Threat


·         Many countries in the neighboring countries are also keeping tourism high up on their economic agenda. From Qatar to Turkey everywhere ambitious development plans are being incubated such as- Qatar 2022, Turkey 2023, Abu Dhabi 2030, Dubai 2015 etc. Once the plans will get realized, tourism sector across Central Asia & Middle would become very challenging. Such a competitive space may not be favorable for Uzbek tourism industry to up it's ante in the region.


UZBEKISTAN TOURISM: Road map to success


After analyzing the statistics of Uzbekistan, followed by a “SWOT” analysis; it could be inferred that it has all the potential of becoming a successful tourist destination. it is blessed with a large number of archaeological sites and natural treasures. It also has modern tourism infrastructure and is moving across high growth trajectories. In spite of the inherent potential, the statistics so far has been very disappointing. One of the prime reason could be the Uzbekistan has been grossly misunderstood as a nation and as a tourist destination; primarily may be due to minimal efforts in marketing Uzbekistan on part of the concerned authorities. The following part of the report, will discuss a few strategies, which might lead Uzbekistan to success.

Communication, Communication & Communication                

Uzbekistan seems to be suffering from lot of ignorance from tourists across the globe. In spite of having a unique cultural identity, it seems to be perceived as yet another USSR state. Though tough and challenging, it is impediment for Uzbekistan to build a unique brand proposition for itself, which can be done only by more and more communications. It needs to establish itself as one of the fastest growing Central Asian countries, situated on the cross roads of East and West. Uzbekistan is a country which is not only blessed with plethora of archaeological sites and natural treasures; but also armored with modern tourism infrastructure. But until unless, the idea will not be communicated to the myriad tourist spread across the globe, the tourist statistics are not going to get a boosting. So, one of the very 1st thing it is supposed to do is, advertise and market itself- strongly, largely and widely.  Let the world hear the herald of a new tourist destination!   

The concluding part of the debate will be discussing few of the possible measures, which Uzbekistan can take to transform itself into successful marketing destination.

Strong Web presence

The present landscape of communication is getting transformed. The strong space enjoyed so far by traditional media such as prints, TV and Radio broadcast is encroached upon by the digital media. Unfortunately Uzbekistan still does not seem to be equipped well enough, to adapt itself to the new media landscape. It has an abysmally low web presence across all the major web platforms. Even countries like Syria or Romania, primarily not considered as popular tourist destinations have much stronger web presence than Uzbekistan. In the present time, Uzbekistan cannot afford to have a low web presence. It needs to implement a fully fledged digital media marketing strategy; utilizing regular web platforms such as- websites, banner ads, articles etc; along with social media platforms such as- Face Book, blogs, You Tube etc. 

Cater to China & India

China and India are among the fastest growing outbound tourism markets in the world. With a collective population of around 2.4 billion and high GDP growth rates; they are going to influence the future of tourism heavily.  In India outbound tourism expenditures have grown from US $ 1.3 billion to US $ 8.2 billion in 2007.  Outbound tourist departures have grown from 3.7 million in 1997 to 9.7 million in 2007 (European Travel Commission, 2009). In case of China it is even much stronger. According to figures released by China Tourism Authority (CTA), China had witnessed an international departure of 51 million, growth of 20 % over last year (Dragon Trail, 2011).  Uzbekistan is geographically close to both of them and had shared cultural ties with both the emerging giants since ages. It is high time to leverage it. A unique marketing strategy catering to the two emerging giants can be a good pay off in near future.

Statistics should be made public

Statistics on Uzbekistan are not readily available, even they are not considered very reliable. There are many popular web platforms such as- Budgetyourtrip.com, cost of living index website etc, often used by a large number of tourists worldwide, where data pertaining to Uzbekistan is missing. Similarly, in the annual WEF travel and tourism competitiveness index; an annual report comprising of travel and tourism statistics of almost all the nations in the globe; Uzbekistan is absent. Non availability of data in such an important publication can be detrimental to Uzbek tourism industry and its aspirations. Uzbekistan needs to come up with relevant data and circulate it across all the relevant platforms both off and online. Even if the data are not very attractive, it will help consolidate the image of Uzbekistan as a liberal, modern and globalized state.            

   

Reference

1>    Eturbonews.com, 2011, Uzbekistan working to attract youth to stretch tourism season, available at http://www.eturbonews.com/25816/uzbekistan-working-attract-youth-stretch-tourism-season
2>    Enjouyyourholiday.com, 2011, top 10 visited cities of the world, available http://www.enjoyourholiday.com/2011/04/18/top-10-most-visited-cities-in-the-world/
3>    Eturbonews.com, 2011, Uzbekistan working to attract youth to stretch tourism season, available at http://www.eturbonews.com/25816/uzbekistan-working-attract-youth-stretch-tourism-season
4>    European Travel Commission, 2009, abstract, available at < http://www.etc-corporate.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=236 >

11 comments:

  1. I am canadian and I work in tourism industry in Canada (Quebec). I went to Uzbekistan last september. I think that the challenges are not only the strong presence of other fast growing destinations or marketing problems. Uz must :
    1) simplify the process to obtain a visa (obligation to receive an invitation letter to apply for a visa...very very long...)
    2) improve the quality of roads to facilitate travel between cities
    3)improve some services such as quality of food-restaurants
    4) diversify the tourism offer which is quite repetitive

    People of Uzbekistan are very welcoming people and Uz should build is offer on closer contacts between visitors and small traders (a mountain holiday in a family was the favorite activity of the whole trip).

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