TravTalk - India

Azerbaijan reconnects with India

- Hazel Jain

After a long pause, Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) reconnects with industry partners in India to update them about the new products that they can offer to their clients. It has already started to see confirmed groups from India now after the entry to Azerbaijan from India is relaxed.

Bahruz Asgarov, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Azerbaijan Tourism Board, is excited to return to India after such a long time and share what is new in Azerbaijan.

“India has been an important market for us since the beginning when the Azerbaijan Tourism Board was establishe­d. It was one of the six key source markets for us. In 2020, we saw a 67 per cent increase in the number of arrivals from India. This has been a very good indicator of the interest in our destinatio­n. During the pandemic, we did not stop working with the market. We continued to have a lot of engagement with the travel trade. We also had a lot of new projects that we are offering to our partners in India. For example, one of them was the Azerbaijan One-on-One platform where we were training our trade partners in India on the tourism products of Azerbaijan. We were also constantly updating them on what was happening inside the country. In fact, the highest number of certificat­es were awarded to Indian partners. We were also doing virtual meetings during the lockdown,” he shared.

He is optimistic of the numbers from India in 2022. “We have relaxed the protocols for Indian visitors, which means they can easily visit Azerbaijan. They only need the full vaccinatio­n certificat­e or COVID recovery certificat­e. We also have a very easy visa process. You only need a passport, a scan of which you can upload on the website and get your visa in three days or you can apply for urgent visa and get it in three hours. It is a very straightfo­rward process. There are no quarantine requiremen­ts as you entry the country,” Asgarov explained. “In fact, we have already received a lot of queries for groups that were already in the pipeline. Now, with the restrictio­ns lifted we already have a few groups confirmed,” he added.

He said that Azerbaijan is a yearround destinatio­n, so it will appeal to all segments – MICE, weddings, corporates and FITs. Right now, it has easy air connectivi­ty from India via GCC on Qatar Airways, FlyDubai and Air Arabia. “We see Indian travellers stay for three nights but I would recommend five to seven nights. We are currently exploring options of what we can do in India and how much we will invest in the country. We will definitely do B2B meetings, roadshows and familiaris­ation trips for agents this year,” he shared.

What travellers can expect

ATB has also managed to achieve considerab­le progress in developing hiking routes, with 16 new trails marked across the northern and north-western routes of Azerbaijan, passing through remote mountain villages surrounded by breath-taking nature. Moreover, 97 km of hiking trails through the lush, forested mountains of Sheki and Zagatala has recently been added to the Transcauca­sian Trail, and more routes are still to be added in cooperatio­n with the Transcauca­sian Trail Associatio­n.

Azerbaijan is becoming an increasing­ly attractive bird-watching destinatio­n thanks to its mixed landscapes and interestin­g bird species, and there is more to be done in this direction as well. ATB is planning to organise a birdwatchi­ng festival where partners will also be invited.

ATB has also managed to achieve considerab­le progress in hiking routes, with 16 new trails

Another integral part of ATB’s activities is to continue research on how best to develop tourism offerings in Karabakh.

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 ?? ?? Bahruz Asgarov Deputy Chief Executive Officer Azerbaijan Tourism Board
Bahruz Asgarov Deputy Chief Executive Officer Azerbaijan Tourism Board
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