By Leman Mammadova
Today, the development of the non-oil sector and the need to generate revenues from various sectors of economy came to the forefront.
In the modern world, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing and profitable sectors of the economy for each country.
Therefore, Azerbaijan aims to develop this sphere by all possible means. Sustainable development of the non-oil sector, in particular the tourism sector, is crucial at a time when it is impossible to fully rely on oil and gas industry.
Azerbaijan: B2B Leisure and MICE Workshop was held in Moscow, Russia. The event was organized by the State Tourism Agency and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board. About 20 tourism companies from Azerbaijan participated in the workshop.
The event was held with Russian travel agencies and companies in B2B format and agreements were reached. During the event, a new tourism brand of Azerbaijan for the Russian market was presented. It was noted that Azerbaijan attracts attention not only as a region of leisure, but also for business tourism.
Executive Director of Azerbaijan Tourism Board Florian Sengstschmid said that Azerbaijan was one of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists.
He noted that work on the promotion of the tourism potential of Azerbaijan in Russia is intensifying in 2019, and it is believed that Russian tourists, each time they come to Azerbaijan, will discover something new.
“Opening direct flights between Azerbaijan and many Russian cities, lack of language restrictions and the possibility of visa-free travel are important factors for the development of tourism between the two countries. From this point of view, about 900,000 of Russian tourists came to Azerbaijan in 2018, that is 5 percent more than in 2017,” said Sengstschmid.
Representative of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board in Russia, Ksenia Kirichenko, said the tourist flow from Russia to Azerbaijan would be doubled in the next five years.
“Today's event is to inform Russian tourists about Azerbaijan's history, modern life, culture, cuisine, tourism opportunities. The presence of nine climate zones in Azerbaijan allows tourists to ski in the snowy mountains, as well as relax in fine sandy beaches, participate in interesting festivals and sports events. I wish everyone to discover this country again,” she said.
In addition, it should be also noted that representatives of one of the most famous tourist agencies chain on the Russian market are in Azerbaijan to get acquainted with the country's tourist opportunities and their subsequent promotion in the Russian market.
The visit is organized by Russia’s well-known tour operator Summer Tour Russia with the support of the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan, the National air carrier Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), as well as the country’s leading tour operators Silk Way Travel and Pasha Travel.
More than 40 employees of the leading tourism company headed by General Director Sergey Agafonov are in Baku within the first phase of the program.
The Russian delegation attended the conference, where Azerbaijan’s touristic and logistics opportunities were presented, and also got acquainted with the historical and architectural sights of the country, having the opportunity to see and assess Azerbaijan’s tourism potential on the spot.
The “Chain Stores of Last-minute Trips” company is a major chain of tourism agencies in Russia. It has more than 400 offices in different regions of the country.
The company expressed its interest in actively promoting Azerbaijan in the Russian tourism market.
Several more groups of leading tourism agencies from all over Russia are scheduled to visit Azerbaijan in March and April as part of the overall program.
In 2018, Russia was the leader in the tourism market of Azerbaijan. Thus, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan during the year. In the list, Russians make up the largest part of the tourists having a share of 30.9 percent.
Azerbaijan is becoming a recognizable and attractive tourist destination for Russian citizens in both summer and winter. Opening of Azerbaijan Tourism Board in Russia will promote the recognition of Azerbaijan by Russians as a tourist destination.
The official representation of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board has been operating in Moscow since December 2018.
Azerbaijan and Russia are establishing active cooperation between the ski resorts of Azerbaijan and North Caucasus. The possibility of the connection the Azerbaijani and North Caucasian resorts of Russia by a single ski pass was discussed during a business forum entitled 'Invest in the Caucasus' in Grozny December 2018.
Russia and Azerbaijan also intend to create a trans-Caspian transport line, as well as develop cruise tourism in the Caspian Sea.
It should be noted that simplified regime of border crossing between Russia and Azerbaijan will make creating an international tourist route possible, which will immediately stimulate tourist exchange between Azerbaijan and Russia’s Caspian regions.
There are several reasons why Russian tourists are heading to Azerbaijan for their vacation. Tourists are attracted by the quality of the hotel basis, the richness of excursion programs and the development of sanitary and spa complexes. Most tourists believe that the hotel base in Azerbaijan does not fall behind with Europe.
Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists.
Azerbaijan enjoys a great potential for the development of tourism. Nature, climate, historical monuments, cuisine, rich culture of the people and other factors lay the foundation for the development of many areas of tourism. There are wide opportunities for Azerbaijan to be recognized as a tourist destination in the world.
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.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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