By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan, which is a blend of Eastern and Western cultures, has become an attractive destination for international tourists.
In January-June 2019, the country was visited by 1.4 million foreign tourists, which was a growth by 86,000 tourists or 6.5 percent compared to the same period of 2018, Azerbaijan State Tourism Agency said in a message on July 11.
More than half of the tourists visiting Azerbaijan accounted for Russia and Georgia. In particular, the tourist flow from Russia amounted to 414,000 people (increase of 2.6 percent), and from Georgia – to 342,800 people (increase of 22.8 percent).
The tourist flow from Turkey to Azerbaijan in the first half of the year reached 147,700 people (increase of 3.7 percent).
There was also a growth in the number of tourists coming from Central and South Asia. In particular, 54,100 tourists from Central Asia visited Azerbaijan (increase of 38 percent).
For Azerbaijan, the main tourist markets of South Asia are India (27,000 tourists, 80.2 percent up) and Pakistan (19,000 tourists, 24.4 percent up), while the main tourist markets of Central Asia are Kazakhstan (20,000 tourists, 15.1 percent up) and Turkmenistan (21,000 tourists, 85 percent up).
However, in the first half of the year there was a decline in tourist flow from the countries of the Middle East and Iran - 145,200 and 106,300 people, respectively. The decline in the number of tourists recorded 4.4 and 27.4 percent, respectively.
In recent years, the creation of a diversified tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan has increased the interest of foreign tourists to the country. There are many opportunities for tourism in Azerbaijan, including rural, health, environmental, cultural, social, commercial, sport, etc.
In 2018, the flow of tourists to Azerbaijan increased by 6 percent compared to 2017 - up to 2.84 million people.
Recently, Kanan Guluzade, head of the Public Relations Department of the State Tourism Agency, noted that the Agency is lobbying simplification of the conditions for passing the state border for Russian citizens.
He said that there is an increase in the flow of guests from Russia and this is the result of work done to attract tourists to Azerbaijan. Guluzade emphasized that Russian tourists occupy a key role in the “Concept of tourism development in Azerbaijan for 2018-2023”.
“Within the framework of this concept, a lot of work is being carried out in the Russian market by Azerbaijan: State Tourism Agency conducts info tours for representatives of travel companies, foreign journalists, and bloggers. The agency helps Russian TV channels shoot programs on the territory of Azerbaijan to reveal the country's tourist potential. In parallel, the Agency collaborates with Rostourism,” he noted.
It is noteworthy that the successful holding of international events in recent years has turned Azerbaijan into a country recognizable by everyone in the world, and a country that many foreigners wish to visit as soon as possible.
Moreover, simplification of the visa regime plays a major role in the development of tourism in Azerbaijan. Currently, citizens of a number of countries get visas right at the Azerbaijani airports, while other tourists can visit the country by getting online tourist visas.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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