In January-September 2019, 2,418,300 foreigners from 191 countries visited Azerbaijan, up 9.5% from 2018. Most of the foreigners were from Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and India.

In the reporting period, number of tourists from EU countries increased by 24% to 110,300 people.

Head of Press Service of the State Tourism Agency Kenan Guluzade told Report that European market is one of priorities for Azerbaijan to attract tourists: “The number of tourists from Great Britain increased by 23.5%, from Germany by 21.4%, from Italy by 12.6%, from France by 14.7%, from Poland by 32.7%. Tourists from the Netherlands grew by 5.3%, from Switzerland by 23%, from Hungary by 31.6%, from Latvia by 5.1%. The first five countries are priority for Azerbaijan. Therefore, we promote tourism in these countries. For this purpose, Azerbaijan official tourism representation was opened in Germany. Such representations are planned to open in other European countries too.”

According to him, as a result of propaganda activities, the number of tourists from those countries increased: “We have two media hubs in Moscow and Dubai. One of them works with European countries, the other one with Asian countries. Our main targets are European and Asian markets. Latin America and other markets are not priority yet. Via these two hubs, we organize intergovernmental events, cooperate with World Tourism Organization. Promotion of different sport events, scientific conferences, business meetings held in Azerbaijan is the main principle of our activity. We have also invited specialists from European countries.”

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Ruslan Guliyev, Chairman of the Azerbaijani Association for Support of Medical and Thermal Tourism, said that increase in the number of tourists in Azerbaijan is caused by sports events held in the country: “The increase was mainly recorded in late May and early June. Both government and private sector should do their best for increase of the European tourists. A number of works are being carried out in this direction. One these works is our participation in different exhibitions every year. Three of them – ITB Berlin exhibition, Fitur exhibition in Madrid and World Travel Market in London – are more important for us.”

Guliyev noted that four matches of the European Championship will be held in Azerbaijan next year: “We should take steps to attract more tourists to Azerbaijan. In order to increase the number of European tourists, it’s necessary to arrange common historical days between those countries and Azerbaijan and carry out different routes on these days. Moreover, shooting of some films in Azerbaijan might support tourism development.”

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Ruslan Quliyev

Turizm üzrə ekspert Ruslan Quliyev

“Hava limanlarımız bir hab rolunu oynamalıdır”.

“One of the Russian TV channels shot a film in Cappadocia, Turkey. After this, the tourist flow to that area increased sharply. Hungary and Georgia repay 30% of costs for shooting a film in those countries. We can use this practice too. Reduction of transport and logistics costs, increase of charter flight can also help tourism. Our airports should play a role of a hub.”

Chairman of the Board at DAIR Hotels and Restaurants Association Samir Dubendi said that we have less direct flights between European countries and Azerbaijan: “It is aimed to receive 3 million tourists in Azerbaijan this year. I think we’ll reach this goal by the end of this year. One of main goals is to increase the number of foreigners from European countries. Because as the welfare in Europe is much higher, they use expensive services. Consequently, this brings more revenues to Azerbaijan.”

 Samir Dübəndi

Turizm üzrə ekspert Samir Dübəndi

Avropa ölkələri ilə birbaşa reyslərimizin sayı az, qiymətləri isə çox bahadır”.

Dubendi thinks that main reasons preventing European tourists from visiting Azerbaijan are related to our air transport. We have less and more expensive direct flights between European countries. Even our citizens use Georgia’s Kutaisi airport. Therefore, the air transport field needs reform. Open sky policy should be conducted. Our airports in the regions are only used by our citizens. Kutaisi practice should be applied to those airports and cheap flights should be carried out. Moreover, charter flights should also be launched.

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According to him, Azerbaijan has been carrying our certain works to introduce Azerbaijan tourism brand in Europe: “The State Tourism Agency promotes tourism and Azerbaijani representatives participate in different exhibitions. However, we don’t see any meeting about our national cuisine, cultural heritage in a park of any European city. We see only events organized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The State Tourism Agency should be active in this regard. We must increase our efforts to create new tourism products. The State Tourism Agency takes certain steps in this regard. We have sufficient local specialists to develop tourism in the country. We don’t need foreign specialists. However, there might be a need for specialists in some specific fields.”