By Leman Mammadova
Uniting both Eastern and Western cultures, Azerbaijan becomes the popular destination for many tourists and attracts millions of visitors every year.
The beautiful nature of Azerbaijan, hospitality of its people, the country's capital with its super modern and ancient buildings draws the attention of all tourists visiting this South Caucasian country.
As many as 1.4 million tourists visited Azerbaijan in the first half of 2019, the State Statistical Committee said in a message. The flow of tourists to Azerbaijan increased by 6.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
As for the origin countries, 29.4 percent of tourists came from Russia, 24.3 percent – from Georgia, 10.5 percent – from Turkey, 7.5 percent – from Iran, 2.6 percent – from the UAE, 2.4 percent – from Saudi Arabia. The list is followed by Ukraine and India - 1.9 percent each, Turkmenistan - 1.5 percent, the UK, Kazakhstan and Iraq - 1.4 percent each, Pakistan - 1.3 percent, other countries - 12.4 percent and stateless people - 0.1 percent.
Some 68 percent of tourists were men and 32 percent - women.
The number of tourists arriving in Azerbaijan from EU countries increased by 24.3 percent to 66,500 people in January-June 2019, while of those from CIS countries – by 5 percent to 502,500 thousand.
In the reporting period, the tourist flow to Azerbaijan from Egypt increased by 83.1 percent, Turkmenistan – by 81 percent, India – by 80.3 percent, China - by 77.1 percent, Saudi Arabia – by 76.7 percent, Hungary - by 52.4 percent, Great Britain - by 35.7 percent, Canada – by 30.8 percent, South Korea – by 29.5 percent, Germany – by 27.2 percent, Japan – by 24.6 percent, Pakistan – by 24.4 percent, Georgia – by 22.8 percent, and from Poland – by 20.2 percent.
As many as 2.8 million tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan in 2018, showing a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017. Last year, Russian, Georgian, Turkish and Iranian citizens made up the largest part of the tourists arriving in the country. In 2018, there was a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Gulf countries.
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.
The successful holding of international events has also 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.
Azerbaijan aims to develop tourism sector by all possible means to ensure sustainable development of the non-oil sector.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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