Uzbekistan to pay tourists who catch COVID-19 $4,370 as compensation

As Uzbekistan opens its borders to travellers for the first time since March, its government has pledged to compensate tourists who catch Covid-19 while holidaying there.

Those who contract the virus within the Central Asian country could be granted $4,370 to cover the costs of medical care in an Uzbek hospital.

"We want to reassure tourists they can come to Uzbekistan," said Sophie Ibbotson, Uzbekistan's tourism ambassador to the UK.

"The government is so confident that the new safety and hygiene measures being implemented across the tourism sector will protect tourists from Covid-19 that the president is prepared to put money where his mouth is: if you get Covid-19 on holiday in Uzbekistan, we will compensate you."

However, the offer only applies to visitors who are part of a tour group which is being led by a local guide.

Uzbekistan has managed to avoid the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, recording 7,177 cases and just 20 deaths among its population of 33 million.

The country, famous for its ancient cities lining the Silk Road, has now fully opened its borders to visitors from China, Japan, South Korea and Israel; tourists from the UK are allowed to visit, but must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival (as well as on their return to Britain).

Tourism businesses in Uzbekistan have been asked to sign up to a national certification scheme for safety and hygiene in an effort to boost confidence in returning visitors.

While not compulsory, any businesses that do not meet the scheme's cleanliness standards could be obliged to compensate coronavirus sufferers if they are identified as the source of infection.

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As the world steadily starts to reopen from lockdown, other countries are offering similar guarantees in a bid to lure back wary tourists.

The government in Cyprus has declared that it will pay the holiday costs of anyone infected with coronavirus while visiting the country.

Cambodia, meanwhile, has taken the opposite tack, ordering that all arrivals pay a US$3,000 'Covid-19 deposit' on arrival.

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