By Leman Mammadova
Today health tourism in Azerbaijan is developing as a new direction, but with the existing great potential.
The 23rd meeting of the Baku club of the international tourism organization "Skal International" was held.
Azerbaijani members of the Skal gathered for the last time in 2018 at this meeting, explored the existing opportunities for health tourism in our country and around the world and at the same time assessed the real work towards the development of this type of tourism.
Ceyhun Ashurov, president of Skal Baku, noted that year 2018 is remembered for many interesting events in the tourism sector of Azerbaijan. Thus, chairman of the Association of Health and Thermal Tourism of Azerbaijan Ruslan Guliyev was elected head at the meeting of the World Health Tourism Organization in Antalya in April, and our country will chair this authoritative organization next year.
Chairmanship is a major contribution to the promotion of tourism opportunities in our country, which unites more than 60 countries' health tourism organizations, that also allows us to attract many tourists to health sanatoriums of Azerbaijan.
Noting that in 2019, it will be 10 years since the establishment of Skal-Baku, Ruslan Guliyev, who was the first president of Skal Baku for four years, said that as in 2018, 2019 will bring a lot of innovation to Azerbaijan's health tourism. Guliyev informed that an agreement has been reached to hold the World Health Forum in Baku with the support of the World Health Organization.
“The government has already been informed about it and it will support us in the organization of the event,” he added.
Representatives of health tourism associations from more than 60 countries will take part in the event.
According to the estimates by World Tourism Organization experts, last year 1.326 billion tourists traveled the world. Considerable part of these trips was made with the aim to tighten one's health.
Health tourism is developing everywhere and becomes a global trend of the modern industry. One of the main distinctions of this type of tourism is that it doesn't depend on the season and is always available.
There are great opportunities to develop health tourism in Azerbaijan since the country is rich in therapeutic mineral and thermal waters, mild climate, and fascinating natural landscapes - forests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls.
Moreover, there are around 300 mud volcanoes existing in Azerbaijan. The mud is used for treatment of radiculitis, skin, cardiovascular, gynecological, urological diseases, and gastrointestinal disturbances. It is widely used in the cosmetology.
Several years ago, the Health and Thermal Tourism Association was established in Azerbaijan
The association played an important role in the development of health tourism, has done considerable work in Naftalan, Duzdagh, Galaalti.
The number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for medical treatment in January-November 2018 increased by 30 percent compared to the same period last year.
Many of the local and foreign tourists are coming to Istisu, Naftalan, Galaalti, Duzdag health centers for treatment.
It is expected that the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for medical treatment will increase by 18 percent in 2019.
Currently, Azerbaijan is developing a strategy for health tourism development.
Tourists are especially interested to visit Naftalan city. Naftalan is a unique health center. Naftalan oil, which is considered a remedy of many diseases, popularized Azerbaijan long before the oil boom that made Baku famous in the 19th century.
The healing properties of this special type of oil is known to medicine for over 600 years and have been successfully used in the treatment of various diseases. As it penetrates the skin, the oil accelerates the metabolic process, boosting cell regeneration. It has a calming, cooling and antiseptic effect, relieves joint pain, cures psoriasis, calms the nerves and beautifies the skin.
Tourists from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are among those who come to the Naftalan Medical Center.
Sanatorium hotels are situated on the territory of the city. In order to undergo treatment with oil in sanatoria, a full medical examination is conducted, and the doctor prescribes appropriate treatment.
The world’s only museum of crutches is also located in the city. The exhibits in the museum are crutches left by tourists who came to Naftalan for treatment. The crutches, no longer needed after a successful treatment, replenish the museum showcases, not only pleasing the eye with variety of designs and sizes, but also giving hope to those who came to the resort for treatment.
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