TASHKENT, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Uzbekistan has allowed tour operators to organize group tours for foreign citizens to visit the country from Oct. 1, the country's special commission on COVID-19 said Friday.
Tour operators will be able to bring in foreign tourist groups of between five and 15 people, and must ensure that visitors are free from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the commission said.
Members of foreign tourist groups with a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests should not be subject to 14-day quarantine restrictions, and should not face additional tests upon arrival in Uzbekistan, according to the commission's decision.
However, if coronavirus symptoms appear upon arrival, tourists should take a paid PCR or express test or antigen, and if the test results are positive, the tourist will be put under quarantine or should return to their home country, it said.
The decision is directed at creating necessary conditions for the development of international tourism, which has been hit seriously due to the pandemic, and tour operators will be provided with benefits for bringing foreign tourists, according to Uzbek authorities.
Over the past three years, the Uzbek government has taken a series of measures to boost tourism, with a goal to receive more than 9 million foreign tourists by 2025 while promoting the tourism industry to 5 percent of gross domestic product from 2.3 percent in 2017.
Uzbekistan has so far registered 49,994 COVID-19 cases, with 417 deaths and 46,092 recoveries.