In a move that will ease travel restrictions to Uzbekistan, the Central Asian nation has introduced visa-free travel for citizens from 27 countries. The policy change was made mere days after the country elected its new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who originally announced the new rules would come into force on 1 April 2017.
However, it has now been announced that the policy will not come into effect until 2021. A that time, tourists from 15 countries will be entitled to a 30-day visa. These include Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain and Switzerland.
Visitors from 12 other countries can enter visa-free for 30 days, as long as they are over 55. These countries include Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, the US and Vietnam.
The government of Uzbekistan said the restrictions were eased to create favourable economic and institutional conditions for the intensive development of tourism. Visitors from all 27 countries will have to pay a US$50 entrance fee. The news was welcomed by many of the countries involved, as applying for tourist visas for Uzbekistan has previously been tricky, though there was some dismay at the revelation that the plans were pushed back four years.
This article was updated 9 January 2017.