By Nigar Orujova
A number of tourist facilities in Azerbaijan have reduced prices for their services, says Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfas Garayev.
A lot of criticism was recently voiced due to the high prices of tourist services in the country, the minister noted.
“Today, we should not talk only about the high prices for travel services in some areas of Azerbaijan, as this issue requires a comprehensive approach,” he said.
Garayev noted that the tourism industry is operating freely in Azerbaijan.
“Artificially inflated prices for the services of some tourist sites were reduced after inspection by the Ministry. Prices have been reduced by about 10-15 percent by the end of the summer season in 30 percent of hotels operating in the regions of the country,” he added.
Summer season results suggest that hotels in Azerbaijan are filled to at least 92-93 percent capacity on the weekends.
“This means that almost all the hotel rooms are booked and used. However, if the prices are high, how are these rooms booked? Of course, we would like to see lower prices set for representatives of low-income persons. Instructions have already been given in this regard.
"The issue of the construction of three-star hotels is reflected in the economic development projects in the regions of Azerbaijan. The Ministries of Economy and Industry, Culture and Tourism, and the Executive Authorities are considering this issue,” he said.
The minister also noted that the certification of hotels would be provided within two weeks in accordance with international standards.
Garayev said the number of tourists arriving in the country from abroad decreased by 5-6 percent this year, while the number of tourists traveling from Azerbaijan abroad decreased by 5-7 percent.
He noted that the reduction is connected with the processes taking place in Russia, Georgia, and Iran.
“The number of arrivals from these countries has decreased. However, an increasing number of tourists are coming to Azerbaijan from Europe, the Persian Gulf. This is a positive trend,” he said.
Garayev said Azerbaijan is in 36th place among 141 countries in competitiveness in the tourism sector, according to the latest figures of the World Economic Forum, expressing his confidence that Azerbaijan will take its rightful place as a popular destination for tourists from around the world.
“This means that the position of Azerbaijan, its economic mechanisms are recognized and accepted in the world market. This is a very important and serious index,” said the minister.
This year, 36,000 people were able to enter the country under an electronic visa, he noted.
“The visa regime in Azerbaijan is considerably simplified. There is the possibility to receive electronic visas for tourist purposes,” said Garayev.
He noted that all economic mechanisms should complement each other in order to create more competitive prices.
About one million tourists visited Azerbaijan in the first eight months of this year. Over 2 million tourists came to Azerbaijan last year, which amounted to about one billion manat (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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