As part of ongoing efforts to introduce a single visa for all Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan agreed to launch a Silk Visa in early 2019.
The Schengen-like Silk Visa, which aims to break down barriers, bring people closer together and boost the economy and tourism in the region, will be officially launched in February 2019, according to the Kazinform news service. According to reports, Kazakhstan also plans to bring Azerbaijan and Turkey into the Silk Visa as well in order to enlarge the area.
Tourism connected with the Great Silk Road has been experiencing a boom in the past few years in the region. In February, Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered the introduction of a 30-day visa-free regime for citizens of seven countries – Turkey, Japan, Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore – and relaxation of registration rules for citizens of 39 others.
Mirziyoyev has opened up the economy of ex-Soviet Uzbekistan, which for nearly three decades rejected market reforms, leaving it largely isolated and with mass unemployment. In cities like Samarkand, the changes were cheered by a population that endured long stretches of economic stagnation. In addition, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan earlier this year abolished their strict visa regimes, which will contribute to a unified visa scheme in the region.