By Nigar Orujova
The tourism sector of Azerbaijan has marked a minimum of 20 percent growth, said Tural Aleskerov, an independent expert in the field of tourism.
The first European Games held in June in Baku is the reason for this increase, he believes.
The expert noted that the rise in tourism was first witnessed in February 2015.
“The large influx of tourists to Azerbaijan had showed itself on the eve of the European Games. During the Games, there were more tourists from European countries in Azerbaijan; now more tourists come from Asia and China. Quite lot visitors are coming from Turkey and Georgia,” he added.
Tourists are interested in historical monuments not only in Baku, but also in the regions, Aleskerov stressed.
Moreover, the number of Azerbaijani tourists traveling abroad has also increased, the expert said.
Azerbaijanis tend to prefer vacations in their home country, choosing Gabala, Ismayilli, Gakh, and Sheki as destinations.
Over 28,000 foreign tourists visited Azerbaijan during the European Games on June 12-28.
To attract more tourists into the country, Azerbaijan facilitated visa procedures for foreign citizens wishing to watch the Games.
The Games hosted 20 sporting events – 16 Olympic and four non-Olympic. Over 6,000 athletes represented European countries at Baku 2015. Azerbaijan won the second place in the overall medal ranking, following the Russian team.
The majority of the foreigners who obtained tickets to watch the European Games were the citizens of Russia, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, the US, and the United Arab Emirates.
The first European Games have been the biggest promotion for Azerbaijan’s tourism industry thus far, as it opened Azerbaijan to the world via broadcasting.
The opening ceremony of the European Games was broadcasted in 93 countries, and was watched by over one billion people.
The beautiful nature of Azerbaijan and its ancient history, along with its mesmerizing art, attracts more tourists each year.
Over 2 million tourists came to Azerbaijan last year, which amounted to about one billion manats (over $950,000 million) in revenue from tourism. In the near future, the country is expected to increase its tourist flow up to 5 million a year.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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