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 October 22, 2004
The Silk Road Tourism Office, Hosted By The Uzbek Government Opens

 Ten years after the World Tourism Organization (WTO) adopted the historic Samarkand Declaration, the Silk Road Tourism Office, hosted by the Uzbek Government with the support of the WTO, has opened in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Dawid de Villiers, who officially opened the Office on behalf of the WTO, praised the initiative and persistence of Uzbekistan in advancing the Silk Road Tourism Project. Mr. Bakhtyar Khusanbaev, Chairman of the Uzbek National Tourism Administration, stressed that the office will work for the benefit of all the countries participating in the WTO Silk Road Project. Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and a number of other countries demonstrated their support for the Office by sending their public and private sector representatives to the opening ceremony.

The Office will do research on Silk Road tourism resources and facilities, and build up a data base on Silk Road tourism-related businesses and other stakeholders. It will also help market the Silk Road as a multinational, culturally diverse and enticing destination, raising awareness among the travel trade in major generating markets.

Dr. de Villiers and Mr. Khusanbaev also met with officials of the Japan-based WTO Support Office for Asia and the Pacific, who attended the ceremony and discussed the possibility of holding a large-scale conference to boost Japanese travel to Silk Road destinations in Central Asia.

Samarkand, which boasts outstanding architectural and cultural monuments from the 14th and 15th centuries, offers a developed tourism infrastructure ranging from top-class hotels to traditional guesthouses catering to large numbers of international and domestic visitors. Ancient Arab manuscripts refer to it as the "Gem of the East", Europeans called it the "The Land of Scientists". When Alexander the Great first time saw Samarkand, he reportedly exclaimed " I heard that the city was beautiful but never thought that it could be so beautiful and majestic".