The government of Uzbekistan is so sure of the hygiene and safety measures it's put in place to protect tourists against getting COVID-19 that "the president is prepared to put money where his mouth is." That's per a statement from the country's tourism ambassador to the UK, announcing an unusual approach to boost tourism within its borders during the pandemic: an offer of $3,000 to any visitor who contracts the coronavirus there, Vice reports. "We want to reassure tourists they can come to Uzbekistan," adds Sophie Ibbotson in the statement. The $3,000 figure was arrived at because that's about the cost of the medical care that Uzbekistan citizens get for free get if they're infected. It's all part of the nation's "Safe Travel Guaranteed" campaign, given the OK by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to coax travelers back.
The compensation is conditional: The tourist must have been exploring Uzbekistan with a local tour guide who's been certified in safety and hygiene guidelines. There's a reason why the country is making this investment: Insider notes it's the fourth fastest-growing tourism market, according to UN stats. Currently Uzbekistan is welcoming back visitors from low-risk nations like Japan and South Korea; those coming from elsewhere will have to self-quarantine for 14 days when they get there. The Telegraph notes Cyprus has taken a similar tack, offering to pay vacation costs for any tourists infected while visiting. Uzbekistan has had just 88 deaths since the pandemic started, with about 17,000 cases overall out of a country of 33 million. The country was one of the first to implement strict lockdowns and border closings in March when the virus started taking hold worldwide. (Read more Uzbekistan stories.)