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Azerbaijan remains attractive for Russian tourists

30 November 2015 17:36 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan remains attractive for Russian tourists

By Laman Sadigova

Developing tourism sector remains a challenge for Azerbaijan, which is keen to attract more tourists to the country.

Overall, tourism has doubled in the country since 2006. In the first eight months of this year, over one million tourists visited the country, while over 2 million people came to Azerbaijan last year, which resulted over $950,000 million in revenue from tourism.

The sharp rise is linked with the simplification of the visa regime for tourists, creating greater opportunities for the tourism sector.

Azerbaijan has visa-free regimes with a list of countries such as CIS member-states, Georgia, Turkey, Iran and this list will be widen over time.

Azerbaijan can offer its tourists, in particular in winter, cultural and health holidays, full of new experiences. Currently, Azerbaijan can accommodate more than 35,000 tourists in its 530 hotels.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev revealed his country's ambitions to ever increase tourist flow into Azerbaijan, with a particular eye on Russian market.

"The Russian market continues to be a priority for us. We think that the number of Russian tourists will increase," said Garayev.

Azerbaijan has always been among one of the most popular places for trips for Russian tourists and the interest for the Land of Fire should be in no way related to the current disagreement between Turkey and Russia.

The flow of Russian tourists to Azerbaijan remains to be very impressive, which can be proved by the fact that Baku is among Top 10 destinations for Russian tourists, according to a Russian travel website.

The number of Russian tourists, who traditionally go on holiday to Turkey, may be significantly reduced after the deterioration of relations between these countries and Russian after Turkish Air Force shot down the Russian military plane SU-24 in its airspace on November 24.

"The tension in the Russian-Turkish relations may lead to a decrease in the tourism between the two countries. But I am sure that the politicians will solve the problem and the process will go back to its normal routine,” Garayev added.

He said that the Azerbaijani Tourism Association in collaboration with Azerbaijan Airlines national carrier has done relevant work. "We spoke with representatives of hotels and presented them new packages. Today, the ministry will meet with representatives of the tourism industry, and they will be given new guidelines," the minister said.

Azerbaijan has many places of interest, museums and interesting adventures. He said that Azerbaijan should maintain its museums.

"We must look forward to upgrade and improve our museums, too," Garayev said.

It is necessary to improve work in this sphere and take definite measures if needed, he added.

Follow Laman Sadigova on Twitter: @s_laman93

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