TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan announced on Monday that it was delaying by four years a plan to allow tourists from dozens of countries to visit without an entry visa, with security cited as one of the reasons for the postponement.
A presidential decree easing visa rules, signed on Dec. 2, had been welcomed inside and outside Uzbekistan as a sign the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, was opening up the country.
But on Monday a new presidential decree was issued, stating the change would now come into force in 2021, not in April this year as had been originally planned.
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The decision to postpone was taken because of the need to develop Uzbekistan's tourism infra-structure, and the need for "ensuring the safety of life and health of foreign tourists and the citizens of the republic…" the document said.
Under the planned change, citizens of 15 countries would no longer need entry visas for visits to Uzbekistan of less than 30 days.
Those countries were Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland and Japan. Visa requirements were to have been relaxed for visitors from a further 12 countries.
(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Christian Lowe)