By Leman Mammadova
More countries view tourism as a crucial factor in socio-economic progress due to the increasingly growing export revenues, the creation of new jobs, businesses and infrastructure.
Azerbaijan aims to develop tourism 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.
Day by day, Azerbaijan further strengthens its position in this sector.
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.
Azerbaijan ranks 7th among European countries for the development of tourism, Report informs citing the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
The organization assessed the development dynamics of tourism sector in Azerbaijan at 20 percent.
WTO, presented Baku as one of the most charming spots, describing it as New Dubai, an oil-rich country that has become a rapidly developing hub in Europe and Asia, including the East.
San Marino tops the list, followed by Georgia, Israel, Turkey, Iceland, Macedonia. Moldova ranked eighth, Bosnia and Herzegovina ninth, Armenia tenth.
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.
In 2018, 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan, showing a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017, according to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan.
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 January 2019, 191,600 foreigners and stateless people from 143 countries visited Azerbaijan (a 2.9 percent increase compared to January 2018).
Thus, 29.4 percent accounted for the Russians, 29.1 percent – Georgian citizens, 11.2 percent – Turkish citizens, 5.4 percent – Iranian citizens, 4.5 percent – UAE citizens, 1.7 percent – Ukrainian citizens, 1.3 percent – Iraqi citizens, 17.3 percent - citizens of other countries, 0.1 percent - stateless people.
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 our country, including rural, health, environmental, cultural, social, commercial, sport and etc.
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.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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