Tashkent: With the heritage sites of Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish cultures dotting its territory, Pilgrimage Tourism in Uzbekistan can boom, say officials as the country aims to draw visitors from abroad.
Aziz Abduhakimov, chairman of the Tourism Development State Committee, said for the development of pilgrimage (ziyorat) tourism it is necessary to ramp up our facilities.
“We have great potential to offer competitive international tours of heritage sites of Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish cultures,” he said.
Together with the Committee for Religious Affairs and the Committee on Interethnic Relations and Friendly Relations with Foreign Countries, a catalogue of cultural heritage sites has been developed with information on the significance of the object, its address and the scheme of travel to it, as well as contacts of the administration.
“We intend to receive guests at the highest level,” Aziz Abdukhakimov said.
“And to provide it, a working group has been created that is already studying the experience of such major pilgrim tourism centers as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Greece, the Vatican, India, China and others," he added.
Active work is carried out with the Association of Private Tourist Organizations to develop attractive specific routes.
Plannings have been done to prepare and certify special guides-translators and tour guides.
For them, courses are organized with the involvement of teachers from the Tashkent Islamic University and the Tashkent Islamic Institute named after al-Bukhari and madrassah.
Works have been done to create comfortable conditions for tourists in airports, railway and bus stations, and hotels. This involves the creation of bathing points (tahorat), prayer rooms in places of pilgrimage.
A network of hotels should be established in the country, taking into account religious traditions and customs, with the designation of them as ziyorat-hotels.
In particular, the hotels will provide a prayer room, a halal kitchen, prayer rugs, a place for ablution, religious attributes and literature, signs of the Qiblah, the lack of picturesque images of people and animals.
For catering points, the introduction of a voluntary system of certification of tourism industry objects byhalal, kosher standards with the appropriation of a corresponding mark of distinction is foreseen.
“Moreover, we initiate negotiations on the invitation to Uzbekistan leading hotel chains from Malaysia and Indonesia who have experience in introducing halal standards and servicing tourists from these countries to carry out similar activities in the country,” the chairman said.
Among the priorities is the creation of conditions for foreign and domestic pilgrims, providing them with the maximum amenities for traveling around the country on religious holidays.
In case of the month of Ramadan, a list of places for accommodation and catering points should be formed that organize daily meals sahar and iftar, cultural, religious and sports events held during Ramadan, and organize the dissemination of this information to the target audience.
From the same position it is necessary to revise the mode of operation of shopping centers in large cities with the extension of the working hours from 10 am to 1 am, and the cafes and restaurants located in them - until 3 am.