Baku “in­vaded” by tourists from around world: As­so­ci­a­tion

Azer News - - Country Guide - By Amina Nazarli

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.

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