Baku “invaded” by tourists from around world: Association
Luxury Khan's palaces and modern skyscrapers of Baku, gorges and waterfalls, sea beaches and ski resorts, carpets and ceramics in the craftsmen villages, crumbly plov and honey pakhlava -- all these are many-sided Azerbaijan, a country of contrasts and amazing hospitality.
Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia attracts tourists with a rich historical heritage, cultural traditions and unique natural sites, and in recent years with large-scale events.
Last weekend, the Land of Fire welcomed the most popular and exciting motorsport in the world, with an audience of half a billion people - Formula 1 European Grand Prix 2016. The capital city hosted tourists from Georgia, Turkey, the CIS and Asia, Iran, the UAE and some Europe countries.
Azerbaijan Tourism Association Chairman Nahid Bagirov emphasized that all the branded hotels, which are concentrated in the center of Baku, were completely booked during the Formula 1.
“The capital of Azerbaijan was literally "invaded" by tourists from around the world,” he said.
The Baku Street Circuit was a fairly entertaining race and Formula One has made a pretty successful debut in Azerbaijan. The inaugural Formula 1 race in Baku was also a visual feast thanks to picturesque views of the capital city.
In a meantime, Chairman of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies Nariman Agayev claims that this summer the Land of Fire will see up to 60,000 foreign tourists.
Moreover, he said, that foreigners will be focused not only in the capital, but also in the country’s regions. “Budget tourists will spend no more than 600 euros (about 1,000 manats) in Baku, excluding the cost of hotel and air tickets. This would include only food, entertainment and souvenirs,” he told echo.az.
Azerbaijan today is quite a popular destination among foreign tourists. Recently, Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfaz Garayev mentioned that for the past 10 years, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by five times, stressing that this figure is a very good indicator for a relatively small country like Azerbaijan
After gaining independence, Azerbaijan has implemented largescale projects for the development of the tourism sector, and many branded hotels have been operating.
“Today, 4.5 percent of the total gross domestic product falls for income from tourism. It is no accidentally that Azerbaijan ranked 36 among 141 countries in terms of human resources and labor market in the Index of competitiveness of travel and tourism sector in 2015,” he said.
Currently, Azerbaijan has about 300 tourist companies and more than 570 placements. The country hosts a series of luxury hotels – Jumeirah, Excelsior, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, JW Marriott, Kempinski, as well as many budget hotels for cost-conscious travelers. Soon the country plans to increase the number of two- and three-star hotels of economy class for the development of both inbound and domestic tourism.
Moreover, the recent presidential decree on facilitation of issuance of e-visas and the establishment of ASAN Viza system will make life easier for many travelers wishing to visit the country.
Visas will be issued through a single online portal within three days without applying to state organizations. Foreign citizens, tourists can use the services of the ASAN Viza portal to arrive in Azerbaijan.
Many countries have hailed this decision of Azerbaijan as a new impetus to develop the tourism sector.
Charge d'German Embassy in Baku Volker Berresheim said that the simplification process of visa will increase international tourist flow to the country.
He said German tourists are the most active in the world, and those who feel visa process complex in Azerbaijan, will now be able to choose the country as a new direction for tourism.
Earlier, Head of EU Delegation in Azerbaijan Malena Mard said that they support the facilitation of visa issuance, expressing confidence that the order will create an opportunity of tourist flow to Azerbaijan from the European Union countries.