The head of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Maxim Reshetnikov, during his visit to Tajikistan, said that he sees a significant unrealized potential in tourism exchanges between the two countries. Tour operators told RTN that this destination is really not very popular with tourists, and explained why.
During the visit, Maxim Reshetnikov and the Chairman of the Tourism Development Committee under the Government of Tajikistan, Kamoliddin Muminzod, signed a roadmap to expand cooperation in the field of tourism. It involves holding events, including the development and promotion of joint tourist routes and brands, improving conditions for the mutual attraction of Russian and Tajik investors. It also provides for the exchange of information and experience in the field of tourism, cooperation in the field of education, assistance in improving the quality of services provided by guides and guide-interpreters.
Tourists are scared away by uncertainty with transportation to Tajikistan
Tour operators in the CIS countries told RTN that today the situation with tourism in the country is actually not changing, and the tourist flow is not growing. Having opened after the pandemic a year ago, Tajikistan in the first months experienced some influx of tourist flow from Russia, which experts attribute, rather, to a general rise in interest in foreign destinations after the removal of anti-COVID restrictions.
According to Andrey Zharkov, General Director of the Zharkov-Tour company, bookings are hampered by the lack of a clear understanding of what will happen to air traffic in May. “We have applications for Tajikistan, tours for May are counted, but we cannot sell them. Aeroflot does not fly, and the flights of the national carrier Somon Air are scheduled only until the end of March. Most likely, they will appear later, but when they fly and what the price will be is unknown. This is very limiting demand. But they are slowly booking Tajikistan – apparently, they have already eaten the rest of the Central Asian exotic, ”he says.
A flight to Dushanbe is twice as expensive as to Tashkent
The company “Vand” tours to Tajikistan after the pandemic resumed this year, combined programs with Uzbekistan are offered in April and May. “The cost of a ticket for the Tajik carrier Somon Air is two times higher than for Uzbekistan airways. Now a flight from Moscow to Tashkent costs an average of 25 thousand rubles round-trip, and in Dushanbe – about 50 thousand. Therefore, we arrive in Tashkent and after visiting the capital, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, we take tourists to Tajikistan,” explained Irina Medvedeva, manager of the destination.
The cost of the final product is rather high: the country is high-mountainous, so you can’t use large buses on the highways, you have to split up groups for seating in minivans of six people. “Yes, and the distances there are large, the journeys sometimes take six hours, and in Uzbekistan, the main attractions can be reached in two or three hours,” the interlocutor emphasized.
There are not enough hotels in Tajikistan
Andrei Zharkov mentioned another disadvantage of Tajikistan – the lack of good accommodation on the routes. There are few hotels, mostly tourists are accommodated in guest houses. “This fits in well with the concept of traveling around the republic, which has been familiar since Soviet times – hiking, tents, a real adventure for tourists,” he specified. The expert believes that it is not worth combining the direction with neighboring republics. As a rule, tourists take a ten-day tour in Dushanbe with a tour of the surroundings, or also travel for 10 days along the Pamir Highway – this is a high-altitude paved road with a length of more than 700 km connecting Dushanbe, Khorog and Kyrgyz Osh.
As noted in the Otkritie company, Tajikistan is not asked at all this year, even on the May holidays. “Last summer, there were still single applications. Most likely, then it was demand against the backdrop of a general increase in interest in all countries that opened after covid,” concluded Sofya Gavrilova, General Director.
According to the statistics of the FSB Border Service, in 2022 Tajikistan was in seventh – last – place among the CIS republics in terms of tourist flow from Russia, receiving 24.3 thousand Russians.