The Silk Road brings to mind places steeped in tradition, culture, and trade in the most precious commodities of ancient times: silk, spices, and gems.

Today, the region once traversed by this ancient route from China to Western Europe is again a vibrant destination, attracting rising numbers of tourists before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Georgia welcomed a record 7.7 million international visitors, many of whom came in search of the country's stunning gorges and exquisite cuisine.

Uzbekistan, with its architectural treasures, had a record 6.7 million international arrivals. In October 2019, Lonely Planet crowned Central Asia as the top region to visit globally.

Although the pandemic has dealt a big blow to this momentum, Central Asia is well positioned to benefit from longer-term tourism trends once global travel recovers.

Among them is a rising demand for sustainable tourism and authentic, experiential travel. To capitalize on this, countries in the region need to work together to upgrade their transportation.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 14 2021, of The Himalayan Times.