Tashkent Fair Showcases Uzbekistan’s Broadening Approach to Tourism
The Tashkent International Tourism Fair is the biggest showcase for new ideas in tourism in the Central Asia region. Uzbekistan's Samarkand is set to be the World Tourism Capital in 2023.
Images provided by Mark Elliott
While it can’t expect to compete in sheer scale with Berlin’s ITB or London’s WTM, the Tashkent International Tourism Fair (TITF) is the biggest showcase for new ideas in tourism in the Central Asia region. Held annually since 1995, except during COVID years, the latest edition (November 30-December 2, 2022) was one of the biggest ever, filling two major halls in Tashkent’s UzExpocenter.
Inevitably enough, the fair’s leading theme was “Tourism on the Silk Road,” playing to Uzbekistan’s tourism strengths as home to three of the world’s most memorable silk route cities, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The latter is due to become the World Tourism Capital in 2023 and thus host the 25th general assembly meeting of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
However, the very professionally organized fair has also made great strides in highlighting many facets of Central Asian tourism beyond the beautiful, blue-tiled monuments of the historic gem cities. Both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were keen to unveil the latest plans for modern ski resorts. Notably, a range of additional infrastructure has been recently added to the Amirsoy ski area - barely an hour’s drive from Tashkent. Another impressive facet was the growing confidence of Uzbekistan’s winemakers, with several producers offering tastings. While many mass-market vintages proved distinctly mediocre, there’s no doubt that quality viniculture is starting to gain ground and a few of the wines we tasted were very pleasurable indeed – notably the boutique offerings of gastronomic tour leader Sergei Danilov. A man of many passionate interests, Sergei is one of the country’s most inventive winemakers, using rare grape varieties such as Khindogni (typically from Karabakh) as well as Rangdor, which yields a particularly impressive full-bodied yet sprightly red, sold in small quantities through his idyllic winery-getaway, Khovli Kolkhoz.