DUSHANBE, August 22, Asia-Plus - A meeting of the Principals recommends the Government of Tajikistan to ease or eliminate registration requirements (registration with Interior Department for Visas and Registration) for foreign citizens arriving in Tajikistan for the period longer than 72 hours.  Recommendations are stated in a letter sent to Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov.  

The letter, in particular, runs that resolution passed by the Government of Tajikistan on March 31 easing visa requirements for citizens of 68 countries and beginning of work of international air companies are a considerable move towards development of tourism in Tajikistan.  

We will recall that the March 31 resolution allows citizens of those 68 countries to obtain 45-day visas within three days. The countries include France, Germany, Iran, Japan, and the United States.

“However, considerable obstacles still remain on the way of development of tourism,” says the letter, “Although the resolution easing visa requirements was already signed, we do not have information about dates and concrete plans of the implementation of this resolution. 

Many international airlines have not been permitted to operate in Tajikistan apart from charter flights.   

Donors hold that elimination of registration with the Department for Visas and Registration for foreign citizens arriving in Tajikistan for the period longer than 72 hours will make travels to Tajikistan more attractive.  If the requirement cannot be eliminated, processing time could be significantly expedited by providing this service directly at the Dushanbe airport and other key border-crossing points.  Immediately upon entry, visitors could have their visas stamped and, if staying longer than 72 hours, could proceed to a second checkpoint to provide registration information and have their registration processed immediately by computer.  

Besides, donors suggest that a policy of issuing Gorno Badakhshan permit for tourists ad other foreign nations should also be reviewed.  “Many of us advocate the complete repeal of the GBAO permit for tourists and other foreign nationals.  If this is not acceptable, we would recommend the introduction of measures to make it more convenient for visitors to acquire the proper permits. Like the registration process, we would recommend making it possible to acquire the GBAO permit in Tajik embassies abroad and at the Dushanbe airport and other key cross-border entry points.” 

Regarding specific permits, they also propose to create Tourist Centers in each district of Porno Badakhshan and other tourist areas in which all permits can be quickly and easily acquired in a one-stop shop.

“Currently, tourists in GBAO are confronted with a range of fees to travel to different parts of the province. Many fees arise unexpectedly, and on occasion, certain areas are deemed off limits to travelers who had planned to visit them. We advocate the creation of Tourist Centers in which tourists would be able to talk with helpful representatives about their travel plans, and conveniently acquire any necessary permits, which will be required during their travel. This measure would help to discourage unauthorized rent-seeking in remote areas and encourage a systematic approach to the issuance of permits.”

Donors also recommend authorizing additional flights for international airlines, with the possibility to fly bigger planes in relation with market demands.

“The government’s commitment to allow international airlines to fly into Tajikistan as often as they would like will promote healthy competition and ultimately reliability. We support your government’s desire to maintain the commercial viability of Tajikistan Airlines, but we believe that this should also take into consideration the income that could be generated for many citizens around Tajikistan as well as for the State budget, by the increased tourism and business travel.”

The letter also notes that some experts have estimated that tourism has the potential to generate 10 to 15% of Tajikistan’s gross domestic product.

ABOUT: The Principals’ Group in Tajikistan is a coordination body of Ambassadors and representatives of donors and International Financial Institutions who participate in regular coordination meetings with a rotating chairperson on topics of national interest.  The last meeting of the Principals Group, held on July 6, focused on the topic of “Tourism in Tajikistan”.