A fast-developing central Asian tourist destination has dropped the need for Australians to obtain tourist visas.
Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has welcomed the news that Australian passport holders no longer require a tourist visa for Uzbekistan, as of 1 April 2017.
In a move aimed at stimulating tourism, Uzbekistan’s newly elected president, Shavkat Mirziyaev, has signed a decree abolishing the need for citizens of Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Finland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore and Switzerland to obtain a visa to enter the country as tourists.
Tourists can enter the country without a visa for up to 30 days, provided they pay a USD 50 entrance fee.
Uzbekistan is one of A&K’s newest destinations and the company reports rapid growth since it was added to the portfolio in 2015. Home to the legendary cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, the country offers extraordinary architecture, grand mosques and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Samarkand, located on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia. Bukhara, a city-museum also on the Silk Road, boasts about 140 architectural monuments.
For travellers to Uzbekistan, A&K offers the eight-day private ‘Highlights of Uzbekistan’ journey from AUD 7715 per person as well as the 15-day hosted journey ‘Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia’ journey which combines Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for groups of no more than 18 guests. Three departures are scheduled in 2017, with prices starting from AUD 11,995 per person.
Visiting Uzbekistan as part of a group, rather that on an FIT basis, has advantages.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in Uzbekistan “due to the ongoing threat of a terrorist attack and the unpredictable security environment.
“We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to regions bordering Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, including Andijan and the eastern region of the Ferghana Valley,” DFAT notes.
“The security situation in these areas can be volatile, and there is a risk from unmarked landmines.”
Written by Peter Needham