Uzbekistan: Private hotels in Samarkand are forbidden to service customers during the presidential election
Ferghana.Ru sources report that private B&B (bed & breakfast) hotels in Samarkand are ordered to suspend business till January 5, 2008. This weird order (weird in free enterprise society Uzbekistan purports to be) came from the local authorities who advise private hotels to turn over clientele to the Afrosiab and President Palace hotels. These latter belong to the state, fully or nearly so. They charge their guests much more than private hotels do.
Owners of hotels suspect that the authorities fear losing control over journalists and independent observers coming to Uzbekistan these days to cover and monitor the forthcoming presidential election. The Republic of Uzbekistan will be electing its new president on December 23.
This is the first episode when the state so arrogantly interferes with privately-owned hotels. What information is available indicate that similar bans were issued all over Uzbekistan.
Needless to say, it never even occurred to the authorities to offer private businesses a recompense. Owners of private hotels are compelled to apologize to the customers who already booked rooms in the hope to meet the New Year in Uzbekistan. They only hope that the bizarre ban will be lifted as soon as the election is over.
Ads in some European countries and Russia did attract a lot of tourists eager to meet the New Year in Uzbekistan. A five-day tour of the country (with visits to Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara) costs $400-500 discounting plane fare.