The decline in the financial well-being of the people due to the spread of the pandemic, border closures, partial or complete restrictions in some workplaces were undesirable for the tourism sector either.

Report interviewed with the Chairman of Board of the Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AzTA) Ahmad Gurbanov:

– How to characterize the current situation of tourism companies amid the effects of the pandemic?

– For the present, the tourism sector has almost stopped around the world. Border closure, restrictions in travels to and from the regions caused a suspension in activities of the tourism companies. As the quarantine regime has been softened, people can travel to some places and this situation allows tourism companies to survive. However, this situation is not satisfactory. Tourism companies cannot earn money. Hotels apply new rules and they don’t want to work with tourism companies. They contact clients directly. As tickets are expensive, people don’t want to travel or buy tickets online.

All this is a big blow to tourism companies. Although we see a revival in domestic tourism, it is not enough for people to live better.

– Is it allowed to cut jobs in tourism companies?

– We currently see job losses in companies. Employees tend to change their jobs. Some leave their jobs because of the closure of the companies, some cannot bear economically. They will hardly return to tourism. This will cause a staff shortage in the tourism sector in the future.

– Has the restoration of flights to some foreign countries caused a revival in the tourism sector?

– As a result of the restoration of some flights to foreign countries, the tourism sector got a certain revival. Some people leave Azerbaijan, but no tourist comes to Azerbaijan from abroad. Flight to Georgia reopened on March 1. However, expensive tickets prevent people from traveling to Georgia. Because one needs more than AZN 2,000 to make a five-day trip to Georgia.

Buta Airways is going to carry out special flights to Georgia from March 19. These flights will be cheaper. At the moment, most people travel for business.

– Which steps does the Association take to support the activities of the tourism companies?

– Azerbaijan Tourism Association is now working on some projects. We are interested in involving tourism companies in these projects. We are negotiating with the companies. Today, the main issue is to improve the condition of the tourism companies and publicize it.

– Which projects are planned to be implemented in the future?

– We think our projects will contribute to the development of tourism. One of them is the project “Karabakh is Azerbaijan”. We have been working on these projects for some months. A working group was also created. The project includes some routes to explain the course of the Patriotic War to the tourists. Currently, we are studying the areas of the new routes. At the same time, types of tourism in Karabakh are analyzed and they will be submitted to the relevant bodies.

– What are the forecasts for the tourism sector of the country for this year?