Zaamin – the hidden gem of Uzbekistan presented during the TITF-2011
The rapid growth of tourism is an acclaimed economic phenomenon of the century. According to statistics provided by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2010, more than 940 million tourists have crossed international borders and the total worldwide turnover of international tourism exceeded 919 billion US Dollars. The study shows that tourism comprises 5 per cent of total world GDP, 30 per cent of world services’ exports (about 1 trillion US Dollars) and 45 per cent of the economic activities of developing countries.
In Uzbekistan the tourism sector has become one of the most significant sectors of the economy as well. In the first half of 2011, 1.3 million tourists to Uzbekistan generated more than 226 million US Dollars (1.8 per cent of total GDP). Due to this trend, doubled with yet unrealized tourism potential of the country, experts to believe that the above given figures for Uzbekistan may double. This is well understood by government officials - both at the senior and the local levels efforts are being made to expand the range of Uzbekistan tourism services and destinations.
One pilot initiative is being carried out at the local level by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the UNDP Uzbekistan and in close cooperation with Djizak region khokimiyats, within the framework of implementing the “Local Governance Support Project: Partnership and Participation” (LGSP), which envisages the promotion of community based tourism (CBT) in one of the hidden tourist havens of the country - Zaamin district of Djizak region (Zaamin). The CBT creates partnerships between local government, private sector, and the community, and emerges as one of the most promising forms of cooperation, leading to enhanced living standards and income generation for the rural families in these remote areas, while preserving natural and cultural heritage.
Zaamin is 3000 meters above sea level and located in the mountainous area of the Djizak region. The ruins of castles on its landscape attest to the region’s ancient historical presence. Legends and stories of these lands have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries until today. But first of all, these highlands are uniquely renowned for their nature, its coniferous forests, and its fresh, rejuvenating and healing air, among other natural resources. It is no accident that Zaamin’s juniper forests are nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List as there are no comparable massive juniper forests in other parts of Central Asia. There are also many recreational resources and activities in the area with a lot of potential for further tourism development.
Aiming to increase the familiarity and visual perception of Zaamin as a tourism destination, exemplary brand and marketing strategies, including an original logo and tagline, were developed by UNDP experts, for the first time in Uzbekistan. The official presentation of these efforts, and the touristm and investment potential will be introduced to potential investors, touristic companies and participants of the 17-th Tashkent International Tourism Fair “Tourism on the Silk Road” (TITF02911), taking place from 2-4 November, 2011 in “Uzxpocenter”.
TITF-2011 is one of the largest events in the tourism sector of Central Asia, and the LGSP team arranged several events to demonstrate the hidden touristic potential of Zaamin. In particular, a special presentation session was organized for potential investors, representatives of tourism companies, international development organizations and governmental organizations in order to familiarize them with the tourism and investment opportunities of Zaamin. The presentation was followed by a master-class in the national dishes pavilion, where participants had an opportunity to watch preparations of typical local dishes like “kazan patir” (a special type of bread made with eco-butter) and “tandir kabob” (meat prepared in a clay oven). The guests were treated to a mini-concert and performance by the “Zaamin asalalari” ensemble presenting traditional dances from Zaamin. The region’s traditions and customs were demonstrated by craftsman from Zaamin in the “Uzexpocenter” Atrium. The guests also could learn more about Zaamin in the uniquely decorated exhibition stand, reflecting the district’s enchanting nature.
The LGSP is undertaking similar activities for another hidden gem of Uzbekistan - Chartak district of Namangan region. Chartak, thanks to its thermal mineral water, rich in iodium-bromine and other micro-mineral elements, can be developed into one of the famous spa resorts of the region.
The LGSP team and its partners believe that tourism development is one of the most promising directions for regional development of Uzbekistan. UNDP’s experience in other countries demonstrate that, through tourism sector development countries are able to attain success in effectively utilizing their rich natural resources and internationally promoting their cultural and historical heritage. This will result in an increased awareness about the unique culture of each region, an improvement in the well-being of local populations, increased economic growth, and generation of additional jobs and income sources for the local communities.