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Azerbaijan to develop tourism industry

16 July 2015 08:09 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan to develop tourism industry

By Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan’s tourism industry will receive a fresh boost as the country plans to cut airfare, hotel prices, and facilitate is visa process, while constructing additional budget hotels.

Vugar Shikhammadov, the head of the Information and Public Relations Department of Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Ministry, has said that the Ministry has begun to execute instructions on developing tourism given by President Ilham Aliyev during the Cabinet meeting.

The Head of State briefed his ministers on the results of the country’s socio-economic development in the first half of the year and the objectives for the future during the meeting on July 13.

President Aliyev has ordered to speed up the procedure of issuing visas to tourists, and reduce air and hotel fares in the country.

“Our duty is to resolve the issues proceeding from these instructions and render support to the development of tourism in Azerbaijan,” said Shikhammadov.

The ministry has prepared letters to the relevant authorities in charge of the construction of two and three-star hotels, he said.

Moreover, the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Economy and Industry Ministry are developing a joint package of proposals to regulate pricing policy in hotels, Shikhammadov added.

To come to the ancient Land of Fire, tourists from the most parts of the world need a visa and the Foreign Ministry will soon present proposals to facilitate the issuance of those visas.

This measure is a part of the list of instructions that the Azerbaijani president gave to his ministers, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hikmet Hajiyev said on July 14.

The president instructed the Foreign Ministry to take measures on improving the e-visa procurement system, in particular.

The Ministry will thus present new proposals on improving the e-visa system and reducing the period for reviewing visa applications, jointly with the relevant ministries and structures involved in the visa procurement process, said Hajiyev.

Next step to come closer to Azerbaijan, the nature rich country of nine climatic zones is to buy a ticket to one of the six international airports operating here.

Reducing the cost of airfare and hotel services will increase the number of tourists coming to Azerbaijan, which will contribute to the development of tourism in the country, President of Tourism Association Nahid Bagirov said on July 14.

Currently there is a need to reduce the cost of airline tickets in all directions, he said.

Bagirov noted that Azerbaijan mostly attracts tourists from Russia, Turkey and Europe, and they are accustomed to fly at more favorable prices.

Along with a decrease in hotel fares, there is a need to build more three-star hotels, he stressed.

Today, the country can accommodate over 35,000 tourists in over 530 hotels, but Azerbaijan still needs more low cost hotels to meet the demands of its budget tourists.

Issues related to the construction of two and three-star hotels should be resolved as soon as possible to prevent a reduction in the number of tourists arriving in the country, Advisor to the Chairman of the Tourism Association Muzaffar Agakerimov believes.

Low-income travelers arriving in Baku from the regions, as well as from neighboring countries, would prefer to stay in inexpensive hotels, he said. But since there are a few of such hotels, most of these tourists stay in rented apartments.

Agakerimov also noted that prices in two and three-star hotels should be comparable to neighboring countries like Turkey and Iran.

And since prices for these hotels are low, so is the range of services. “The level of service in hotels must be raised. This does not mean that if the hotel has two or three stars, the service there has to be at a low level. These hotels have their own standards,” he stressed.

The expert added that if the level of service level is adequate and the prices are acceptable, it would contribute to an increase in the number of tourists.

“Of course, tourists arriving in Azerbaijan see the high prices in hotels and expensive flights, and talk about it in their own countries. As a result, this leads to a decrease in the number of tourists coming to Azerbaijan. Therefore, this issue must be resolved as soon as possible,” Agakerimov added.

Azerbaijan, the host of the inaugural European Games this June, attracted over 28,000 foreign tourists during the 17 days of the elite sports competition. To keep this trend going, the country might benefit from implementing the above-mentioned recommendations as well as develop other standards for high-quality travel to Azerbaijan.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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