Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Cultural Heritage Aziz Abduhakimov said the direct air flight between Pakistan and Uzbekistan will be started soon which would promote bilateral economic and tourism ties. In the first phase, the flight will be started from the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan to Lahore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Cultural Heritage Aziz Abduhakimov told APP, also adding that the tourism conference will also be held in Samarkand. He said that in the second phase, direct flights to Karachi and Islamabad will be started from other cities of Uzbekistan, including Tashkent and Khiva. He said that the direct air link will increase bilateral economic and trade activities and tourism on both sides and it will help the people of both countries to come closer. Aziz Abduhakimov said the Tourism Conference to be held in Uzbekistan will increase the tourism integration of Uzbekistan not only with Pakistan but also with all the Muslim countries of the world. He said that holding such a conference would strengthen Uzbekistan’s partnership with other countries in the future and promote local tourism. He said that there is a lot of potential for Islamic tourism in Uzbekistan which can be visited by tourists from Islamic countries. Uzbek Deputy PM said that Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are the centers of Islamic heritage and learning which are very attractive places for Muslim tourists. He said that Muslim saints and Sufis, including the shrine of Hazrat Imam Bukhari, are in Uzbekistan where millions of Muslim tourists come every year. He said that the leadership of Uzbekistan is paying full attention to the promotion of tourism here and tourism has a very important role in the economy of any country. Aziz Abduhakimov said that according to the vision of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev tourism has a very important place in the economy of Uzbekistan and special attention is being paid to it. He said that the government of Uzbekistan is promoting direct flights with various countries of the world, which will improve economic, trade and tourism links with these countries. He said that apart from this, “we are also relaxing the visa policy and providing ease in the visa process for tourists,” He said that in the last ten months till October 30, 3.6 million tourists visited Uzbekistan and in the next two months this number is likely to reach 5 million. The minister said that this number is 40 percent more than the number of tourists visiting Uzbekistan in 2021. He said that the United Nation body, UNESCO has declared Samarkand as the best destination for international tourism. He said that there are all kinds of facilities for tourists from Islamic countries, including Halal food, which they can take advantage of. He said that Uzbekistan is currently on top in the Global Muslim Tourist Index and thus many global rating agencies have declared Uzbekistan as the best place for tourism. The Deputy PM said that Samarkand is the tourism hub of Uzbekistan where there are great opportunities for tourism. In this way, we are providing modern tourism facilities and all kinds of infrastructure in this place, which will boost the local tourism. He said that Samarkand is also the world center of Islamic culture and science, where great scientists and sociologists and scholars of world fame were born.