By Amina Nazarli
Health tourism, a new trend and direction in the tourism industry, has become a fast growing sector in terms of travelling.
The multibillion-dollar phenomenon that is expected to grow considerably in the next decade attracts about eight million patients worldwide yearly. Whatever your reason for seeking medical procedures overseas, reports suggest this industry is bringing in between $20 billion and $40 billion per year.
The rise of medical tourism over the past years, has given the Azerbaijani tourism industry a wakeup call to make active efforts to revive the sector.
More and more people choose sunny Azerbaijan for an amazing adventure, extraordinary holiday, and useful treatment for strengthening the health.
Azerbaijan’s nature, cuisine and lifestyle are noteworthy, as here medical tourists can combine their trip with holiday in their favorite destination in Caucasus Mountains. The country’s mild climate with the breathtaking landscape including forests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls will not leave anyone indifferent.
Azerbaijan has recently been named among Top five countries in category of "Wellness Holiday", according to results of the Internet voting of National Geographic Traveler Awards 2017.
The TourStat Analytic Agency, which published the results of the voting reported that "Chenot Palace hotel in Gabala region of Azerbaijan is in Top 5 in the nomination "Best Resort Hotel".
Israel is the leader in this category, followed by Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Some countries are leading in the following categories Greece - beach holiday, Cyprus – family vacation, Italy – excursion tour, Austria – ski tour, Argentina - adventure tour, Japan – exotic tourism, Georgia - gastronomy and agro tourism, and China - "discovery of the year".
Altai Krai is ahead of other regions of Russia on wellness holiday. Kamchatka is the leader for adventure recreation, Khakassia for eco-tour, and Leningrad oblast for excursion tour.
Medical Tourism in Azerbaijan
The medical tourism in Azerbaijan has been noticeably improved after the adoption of the state program on development of resorts in 2009-2018. To boost the sector, there was established the Association to support the health and thermal tourism in Azerbaijan, as well as modern medical and health centers were opened in Baku, Naftalan, Nakhchivan and other regions of the country.
The fresh mountain air, pure water, organic fruits of the Azerbaijani regions and beach recreation on the Caspian Sea Shore have already known among many tourists. It would suffice to mention the world famous Istisu, Galaalti, Naftalan, Duzdag recreational resorts.
Oil-rich Azerbaijan also offers unique medical institution that treats with Naftalan crude oil, renowned for its curative properties.
For centuries the country was known as the land of healing oil exported like rare medicine via the Silk Road. Naftalan oil popularized Azerbaijan long before the oil boom that made Baku world famous in the 19th century. Along with the oil exploitation that started in Baku, industrial exploitation and processing of Naftalan oil began, making it famous in the West.
Its medicinal uses are very wide; it is used to treat over 70 illnesses and known as “a marvelous ointment treating skin diseases”.
Healing hot water
Istisu or “Hot Water” located in Masalli, a beautiful and unique city is another healing water of thousands diseases. The water, coming from the bowels of the earth at a depth of 90-250 meters is rich with hydrogen sulphide, calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium hydrocarbons, and iodine.
The marvelous Istisu spring helps people to cope with diseases such as rheumatism and its adverse effects, skin diseases, kidney and urinary tract problems, radiculitis, prostate hypertrophy, liver disease, biliary tract problems, infertility, gastro-intestinal diseases, traumatic injuries, etc.
Nakhchivan, one of the oldest regions not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the world, is home to a magical salt cave - Duzdag.
The area with 130 million tons of natural salt reserve is located 12 kilometers from Nakhchivan city. This Salt Mountain of Azerbaijan is known not only for clear and pure salt, but also for its healing properties. The area has huge salt deposits to have been naturally formed million years before.
With a preventive purpose, 2-3 single visits are enough and even a 10-12 hour stay in the sanatorium's chambers helps to improve ventilation of the lungs and bronchial tree, as well as heart and blood circulation and remove stress.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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