Bukhara truly is the city of poems and tales. Legends here soar above the fillets of streets, minarets here scrape the skies, and each stone of its ancient architecture holds the dust of eternity. Bukhara deserved the fame of being an open air museum. Tourists from all over the world come here attracted to its beauty. While walking on its streets, they feel like they are walking through the roads of History.
Bukhara is located on the Great Silk Road - the road of unique and rich historical and cultural heritage, glorious monuments of medieval architecture, distinctive arts and handicrafts, ceremonies and rituals of inhabitants. Uzbekistan was the center of crossroads of the Great Silk Road connecting many different countries for centuries.
The 9th annual Silk&Spice Festival in Bukhara was an initiative organized by the Bukhara Tourism Association in partnership with the Bukhara Artisan Development Center, with the assistance of the city Mayor’s Office and the National Company “Uzbektourism”.
The official opening ceremony would take place on May 2nd, as we heard, and I together with my boss Donald Nicholson hurried up to Bukhara that day.
We arrived at SEMURG Hotel at around 4:30 p.m., where we noted that SEMURG was 100% full, along with many other hotels in Bukhara. That was a good sign, as it shows how more tourists are attracted to visit Uzbekistan.
We did not know time and venue of the Festival opening ceremony (I guess, the information about time, venue, program of the Festival should have been widely spread by the organizers, which wasn’t done). We had SEMURG employee Lena to call the Bukhara Tourism Association, and only at 5:30 she got an information according to which the opening ceremony would take place at Lyabi Hauz at 6:30.
When we got to Lyabi House, we saw many groups of tourists, walking around, making photos, having their evening tea under the trees – everyday picture at the old city center of Bukhara. No signs of a festival, though. We saw only several craftsmen selling silk, ikat fabric, scarves, and national crafts. Someone said we should go to the open air Puppet Theater, and there we headed, too.
The open air puppet theater is a pretty small place, but even there the number of foreign guests was not big. Most attendants to my surprise were local people of Bukhara. The concert was started, and again I was surprised: no one said any introduction speeches, no presentation on silk and spices history at all. Nice Bukhara style music, dancing, songs (somehow only in Tajik Language), puppet dancing – it was a concert in open air that we enjoyed very much; however, there wasn’t much understanding (signification) that it was the opening ceremony of the Annual Silk & Spice Festival.
After the concert we bought a couple of nice handmade scarves from local craftsmen and went back to the hotel.
I do not know what exactly was organized for the next two days of the Festival, but I heard from one of the journalists, that no really interesting events took place.
I think if we really want to contribute to development of tourism in Uzbekistan, we should all try to change this situation with better organization of events. If “Uzbektourism”, being the key company responsible for organization of such events, does not know what to do or how to do, companies and people involved in tourism business could get together and come up with their suggestions.
First of all, the date of the Festival each year should be May 1st. For all CIS countries it is May Holidays, so tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Baltic and Caucasian countries would be delighted to come to Bukhara for the Festival. The date should never be changed, as it will help to make the Festival a known tradition for tourists from all over the world.
Second, the venue of the Festival should be chosen and remain for every year. It can be Nodira Devanbegi Medrese, Lyabi Hauz square or any other places that can facilitate a large number of guests.
Then the whole organization process should be started long before the Festival. Maybe initiation of a special “Committee” for this purpose could be helpful. Gathering suggestions from all the companies and entrepreneurs working in the tourism business, this Committee could work out a wide and interesting program of the Festival that would include nice and interactive presentation of Silk and Spices history, of Bukhara itself, shows presenting Uzbek cultural traditions, fashion and cuisine. Special city guides can be organized for groups telling the history of the ancient buildings, along with tours to desert on camels.
After the program is worked out, the Committee should get assistance of Uzbektourism, the National Railroad Company and the National Airways Company for organization of special charter flights, train offers for tourists coming particularly for this Festival.
Then dissemination of the information about this event should be started. All means should be used: Internet, advertisements on popular TV channels in different countries, newspaper ads, different articles should be issued wherever it is possible.
And last, but not least, more and better accommodation facilities, better services and quality food should be available in Bukhara. All that is possible and would be much easier if the government would show support and assistance to those entrepreneurs serving foreign tourists.
AMCHAM Tourism Committee will be having its usual meetings and will try to involve the officials from Uzbektourism, Uzbekistan Airways, Uzbekistan Railroads, Hokimiyats, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and others into the discussion and work for development of tourism possibilities in Uzbekistan. Let’s hope that all those agencies will be supportive, and that all the companies and individuals working in tourism and service business would cooperate in order to change things for better.
I will be glad to receive any ideas and/or suggestions that you might have in this regard, and I wish you good luck in anything you are doing in Uzbekistan.
Always yours, Nargiza.
(If you need any additional information on this topic, please, do not hesitate to contact me on my e-mail: email@example.com)