By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Land of Fire has welcomed more than 610,800 people from 157 countries of the world since the beginning of this year. As usual, tourists from Russia lead among other nationals visiting Azerbaijan.
Chairman of the State Agency for Tourism Fuad Naghiyev has noted that last year, more than 670,000 Russian tourists visited Azerbaijan, and in the first three months of 2019, their number exceeded 167,000 people.
Naghiyev said that in order to attract tourists from Russia to Azerbaijan, it is necessary to carry out active work not only in the center of this country, but also in the regions. He noted that this year it is planned to intensify efforts to popularize the tourist potential of Azerbaijan in Russia.
The chairman also noted that Russia is one of the primary tourist markets of Azerbaijan, and with the aim of attracting tourists, the Agency conducts active propaganda work. Since 2018, the official tourist office of Azerbaijan has been operating in Moscow.
Naghiyev stressed that Russia is one of the main participants in the tourism market of Azerbaijan. This is facilitated by the absence of a language barrier, an abundance of opportunities for recreation and entertainment. Tolerance and security in the country condition the attractiveness of Azerbaijan as a comfortable touristic destination and its cultural and historical heritage arouses interest of Russian tourists, according to him.
The chairman also noted that Russian tourists are interested not only in rest, but also in international competitions held in the country, such as Formula 1 or the final match of UEFA Europa League, as well as wine festivals.
It is important to note that Azerbaijan plans to develop the first wine tourist route in the history of the country by mid-2019. A new highly specialized tourist route will pass through the wineries of the Absheron, Ismayilli, Shirvan, Gabala, Sheki and Goygol regions.
Tourism experts intend to pave the route in such a way that within a few days, foreigners would be taken from one region to another, giving them the opportunity to visit wineries where the legendary Azerbaijani alcoholic beverages are produced. In addition, tourists will get the opportunity to personally taste wine drinks. Azerbaijan also intends to connect it with the famous Georgian wine route, paving the way for tourists from Sheki to Kakheti, a Georgian region.
As for statistics, in 2018, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries visited Azerbaijan. Tourists spent over $2 billion in the country last year.
Azerbaijan, which is on its way to become a more popular destination for tourists, attracts more visitors every year. The country is popular for a number of archaeological and historical sites, decently depicting its past. The country views tourism development as a priority in its efforts to diversify the non-oil economy.
A number of tourist facilities have been built in the regions and cultural and historical reserves have been set up or restored. Moreover, simplification of the visa regime with many countries played a major role in the growth of tourist inflow.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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