‘Safe Travel Guaranteed’: Uzbekistan Offers $3000 to Tourists if They Get Coronavirus

Tourism site in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Darrell Chaddock/Unsplash

The government of Uzbekistan will pay tourists $3,000 in compensation if they contract the Chinese coronavirus while visiting the country, officials confirmed this week.

Last week, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signeddecree launching the “Safe Travel Guaranteed” campaign, which seeks to reinvigorate the country’s tourism sector in the wake of the pandemic.

“We want to reassure tourists they can come to Uzbekistan,” said Sophie Ibbotson, Uzbekistan’s tourism ambassador to the UK, in a statement. “The government is so confident that the new safety and hygiene measures being implemented across the tourism sector will protect tourists from COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] that the president is prepared to put money where his mouth is. If you get COVID-19 on holiday in Uzbekistan, we will compensate you.”

Uzbekistan’s tourism industry has experienced rapid growth over recent years, becoming the world’s fourth fastest-growing tourism market in 2019. Types of tourism vary from the pursuit of outdoor activities such as hiking and rock-climbing to exploring the country’s rich archeological and religious history.

The payout is subject to meeting various conditions. All recipients must have been traveling as part of a tour group with a certified tour guide following specific hygienic protocols. As part of these tours, tourists will visit sites and accommodation that have received government certification for meeting necessary sanitary and epidemiological standards.

Uzbekistan is one of a few countries planning to resume international flights this month, although only from certain allegedly low-risk countries including China, Japan, South Korea, and Israel. These countries allegedly have seen declines in coronavirus rates, though Japan and South Korea recently experienced a mild surge. China, where the virus originated, has documented a sharp decline in the number of cases, but many have questioned the accuracy of the Communist Party’s official statistics citing extensive evidence from places like funeral homes that Beijing deflated its case and death rate.

Travelers from other countries going to Uzbekistan must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, although authorities plan to waive this rule once those countries have brought their own infection rates under control.

One of the reasons Uzbekistan is able to make such a bold offer is due to the relatively low number of cases health officials have recorded, having gone into a nationwide quarantine in mid-March. As of Tuesday, the country of nearly 33 million people has confirmed 17,755 cases and just 93 deaths, well below that of neighboring countries such as Iran, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

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