Uzbekistan was 2nd in the list of hot destinations for 2017, according to the Financial Times. The FT rating has been prepared on the data from a panel of travel industry leaders such as Singita, Wild Frontiers, KE Adventure Travel, Discover the World, Butterfield & Robinson, Ampersand Travel, Steppes Travel and others who picked the hottest destinations for the coming year.
To the top 9 destinations were also included Nepal, Kenya, Finland, the Andaman Islands, United Kingdom, Madagascar, Cambodia and New Zealand.
“With time-rich baby-boomers driving growth in adventure travel, we’re increasingly seeing our clients take longer, once-in-a-lifetime trips, and nowhere is hotter right now than the countries of the Silk Road,” says Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers. He says demand has been boosted by recent books and television programmes, including Peter Frankopan’s best-selling historical epic,The Silk Roads, Sam Willis’ BBC series The Silk Road and comedian David Baddiel’s Discovery Channel documentary, On the Silk Road.
For those without the months needed to make a full journey along the route, Uzbekistan offers a convenient taste of some of the highlights — including the mosques, mausoleums, mosaics and minarets of the ancient trading cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. However, the allure of such sites has always been tempered by the difficulties of getting a visa (until recently, for example, the London embassy would only accept payment by postal order, while travellers arriving overland have occasionally found the borders unexpectedly closed to mark public holidays).
At the start of this month and already the new government has announced a desire to see the “intensive development of tourism”. To that end, from April 2017 citizens of 15 countries (including the UK, Australia, Canada and several European nations) will no longer require any sort of visa (though there’s still a $50 entry fee). Citizens of a further 12 countries will also not need visas, but only if they are over 55.