By Rashid Shirinov
The number of foreign citizens arriving in Azerbaijan increased by 12.6 percent in the first three months of this year as compared to the same period of 2017, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a message on April 10.
During this period, 627,835 foreign citizens visited the country, which is 70,207 people more than in the same period last year.
As for the countries whose citizens visited Azerbaijan in the three months, Russia was the first (171,814 people), followed by Georgia (138,909), Iran (99,158) and Turkey (72,733). Moreover, 29,317 people were citizens of the UAE, 11,847 of Ukraine and 11,112 of Iraq.
The majority of foreigners who arrived in Azerbaijan in this period accounted for the CIS and Georgia (342,457 people or 54.5 percent), Middle Eastern countries (166,976 people or 26.5 percent) and European countries (93,122 people or 14.8 percent).
The ministry also noted that for the first two months of 2018, foreign tourists made operations in the amount of 190,927,699 manats ($111,981,005) through bank cards. Thus, they spent 20 percent more funds compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the funds spent by Azerbaijani citizens abroad for the two months amounted to 179,521,339 manats ($105,291,060).
Azerbaijan, the popular destination for many tourists, attracts millions of visitors every year. The country is popular both for many archaeological and historical sites, and for modern tourist facilities created in Azerbaijan for the convenience of tourists.
The country views tourism development as a priority in its efforts to diversify the non-oil economy.The number of foreign nationals who arrived in Azerbaijan last year increased by 449,215 people or 20 percent compared to 2016, hitting the figure of 2,691,998 people. In general, for the past 10 years, the number of tourists visiting the country increased five-fold.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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