By Leman Mammadova
In recent years, the creation of a diversified tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan has increased the interest of foreign tourists in our country. Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists.
Simplification of visa regime also 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.
The mesmerizing mix of East and West, the possibility to have a rest on the Caspian Sea shore and enjoy fresh air and delicious meals have always been attracting tourists to Azerbaijan. Many of them get so much fascinated with the country and its capital Baku that they come back to visit Azerbaijan again after a while.
Last year, revenues of hotels in the country amounted to 359.4 million manats ($ 211.48 million).
In 2018, local population and foreign guests have spent about 3 million nights in hotels throughout the country that is 15.9 percent more than in 2017, the State Statistical Committee told AZERTAC.
As much as 59.1 percent of the hotel accommodations were observed in Baku, 10.4 percent in Gabala, 5.4 percent in Khachmaz, 4.1 percent in Naftalan, 3.8 percent in Guba, 3.6 percent in Gusar, 2.9 percent in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Gakh and Ganja, 0.8 percent in Lankaran and 8.1 percent in other regions (cities).
The number of nights spent by foreigners and stateless persons increased by 20.3 percent compared to the previous year and amounted to over 2 million, which is 68.3 percent of total accommodations.
Of this amount, as many as 13.8 percent of foreigners came from the United Arab Emirates, 11.3 percent from the Russian Federation, 8.8 percent from Saudi Arabia, 4.9 percent from Iran, 4.3 percent from Turkey, 4.2 percent from India, 3.8 percent from Israel, Kuwait, 2.7 percent from Iraq, 2.6 percent from the UK and the U.S., 2.5 percent from Pakistan, 2.4 percent from Qatar, 1.6 percent from Kazakhstan, 1.3 percent from Oman, 1.2 percent from Germany, 1.1 percent from Ukraine, 1 percent from Bahrain and 26.8 percent accounts for the citizens of other countries.
As much as 74.2 percent of foreigners stayed in Baku, 10 percent in Gabala, 3.7 percent in Naftalan, 3.2 percent in Gusar, 3.1 percent in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, 3 percent in Guba, 2.8 percent in hotels of other regions and cities. The number of stays by the citizens of Azerbaijan increased by 7.5 percent compared to 2017 and reached 952,900 people.
In 2018, the hotels' revenues increased by 26.3 percent or 359.4 million manats ($ 211.48 million) compared to the previous year, including 66.9 percent in services for the provision of rooms, 24 percent on foodstuffs sales, 3.3 percent - on treatment and health services, 5.8 percent - other services.
Last year, the average national level of hotel accommodations was 21.4 percent (17.1 percent in 2017). This indicator was 54.8 percent in Naftalan, 37.3 percent in Gabala, 36.1 percent in Baku, 34.7 percent in Kurdamir, 32.7 percent in Agstafa, 30.4 percent in Shamkir, 26.3 percent in Beylagan and in other cities and regions lower than the country's indicator. The highest average level of hospitality use (37.5 percent) was recorded in August.
In the modern world, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing and profitable sectors of the economy for each country. The tourism sector accounts for 10 percent of global GDP, and this area has a significant impact on issues of export, investment, infrastructure development and promotion of social integration, stimulates entrepreneurship.
Azerbaijan is among the developing countries in the field of tourism, occupying the 39th place among 148 countries in terms of global competitiveness in tourism.
In 2018, 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan, showing a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017, Trend reports referring to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan.
Looking at the origin countries, Russians make up the largest part of the tourists havin a share of 30.9 percent, while 21.4 percent came from Georgia, 10.2 percent - Turkey, 8.5 percent - Iran, 3.3 percent - the United Arab Emirates, 2.6 percent - Saudi Arabia, 2.4 percent - Iraq, two percent - Ukraine, 1.4 percent - Israel, 17.2 percent - citizens of other countries, 0.1 percent - stateless persons.
Men accounted for 66.1 percent of those who arrived in Azerbaijan, while women accounted for only 33.9 percent.
Azerbaijan received most tourists in July (11.6 percent), in August (11.3 percent), in March (9.7 percent) and in June (9.5 percent). On the other hand, tourists visited Azerbaijan less in February (5.8 percent), in January (6.5 percent) and in May (7.3 percent).
In 2018, the largest increase in the number of incoming tourists was observed among the citizens of the Gulf countries (except for the UAE and Iran). The number of Saudi Arabian citizens increased 2.2 times, Bahrain doubled, Kuwait 1.8 times, Qatar 1.6 times, Iraq 7.9 percent, Oman 7.4 percent compared to 2017. On the other hand, the number of arriving Iranian and Emirati tourists decreased by 33.7 and 8.3 percent, respectively.
In general, 554,100 people came from the Gulf countries, and almost one in five who arrived in Azerbaijan was a citizen of these countries.
Compared to the previous year, the number of tourists from India increased by 2.7 times, Israel - by 2.6 times, Egypt, Turkmenistan and South Korea - by 1.7 times and from China - by 1.5 times.
As for the EU citizens coming to Azerbaijan, in 2018 their number increased by 6.7 percent to 112,500 people, while the number of the citizens of CIS countries went up by 3.8 percent and reached 1,044,200 people.
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz