Developing Tourism–the path out of poverty for Uzbekistan
Keywords:Tourism, poverty, sustainable development, Uzbekistan, Central Asia
Ending poverty in all of its forms by 2030 is the top priority goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG). It is well known that the tourism industry can play a vital role in eradicating poverty. While the decline of global poverty is obvious, progress has slowed and even reversed because of COVID-19 and is expected to grow in the coming years. In recent years, tourism development in Uzbekistan has seen unprecedented growth.
Modern Uzbekistan history can be divided into two, both with very different political and economical approaches under the presidency of former president Islam Karimov and current leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Since 2016, Uzbekistan has begun an unprecedented political, economic and social transformation. The reforms the new president has started have been remarkable and are being seen as an opportunity to unlock the country’s potential. In ‘New Uzbekistan’, poverty is a new term following the President’s address to the parliament of Uzbekistan, in which he became the first Uzbek president in history to openly admit the existence of poverty in the country. In Uzbekistan, the population living below the poverty line accounts for about 12 to 15 percent, nearly 4 to 5 million people in the country are living for less than 10 to 13 thousand UZS a month.
Considering the challenges the world is facing with climate change, uncertain epidemic situations, countries with conflict (e.g. extremists taking over the government in Afghanistan in 2021), and authoritarian regimes (e.g. Kazakh protests in early 2022), it looks challenging to eradicate poverty by 2030 in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan.
This research will initiate an exploration of both the present and potential future impacts of tourism on poverty alleviation in Uzbekistan. The overall aim of the research is to create a model for developing countries to reduce poverty by maximising the benefits of the tourism industry. The academic resources related to the topic of interest are sparse. Most studies seem to focus on tourism only and there is little or almost no evidence on the impacts of tourism on the poor in Uzbekistan. This paper has important implications for academics and proposes practical recommendations which will be beneficial to policymakers and tourism governance.
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