By Nigar Orujova
The newly built ski resort Shahdag, the only summer and winter tourist complex in Azerbaijan, transferred management of its hotels to Andorran company PGI Management for a three-year term on July 10, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said.
According to a relevant agreement, three hotels of the resort, Zirve, Gaya Residence and Shahdag Hotel&SPA, will be overseen by PGI Management.
From November 2012 to May 2013 PGI managed the technical maintenance of the complex in the field of artificial glaciations, control over cable railways, mountain rescue services and training of local professionals.
Founded in 1995, PGI Management is the largest tour operator in Andorra having a number of tourist resorts and hotels in Portugal, Spain, Russia and other countries. The company provides services to 5 million tourists a year.
Azerbaijan has considerably improved its tourism infrastructure recently due to the opening of such major hotels as JW Marriott Absheron, Four Seasons, Jumeirah, Sheraton, Hilton and Kempinski.
According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, some 50 new hotels are commissioned every year. The services provided by the hotels are getting better as well.
514 hotels operate in Azerbaijan. Also, the number of travel agencies in Azerbaijan has reached 200.
The prices charged at Azerbaijani hotels have decreased 15-20 percent in the past two years.
Previously Azerbaijan attracted most of tourists in summer, but a new mountain skiing facility, Shahdag, was constructed to change the situation. Built in the northern Gusar region, it will be able to function all year round with artificial snow and is expected to receive 10,000 tourists daily.
During the two-month test mode operation, 50,000 tourists visited this facility, which is a record number for Azerbaijani tourist facilities. Most of these tourists are locals.
The number of foreign nationals who arrived in Azerbaijan last year increased by 2.4 percent compared to 2003 and reached 2.480 million.