By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists. The country 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.
Some 364,200 foreigners and stateless persons from 152 countries came to Azerbaijan in January-February 2019, which is 3.3 percent more compared to the same period last year, Trend reports referring to the State Statistical Committee of Azerbaijan (SSC).
In particular, 29.8 percent of visitors were citizens of Georgia, while 27.6 percent were from Russia, 12 percent from Turkey, 5.8 percent from Iran, 3.6 percent from the UAE, 1.8 percent from Ukraine, 1.7 percent from India, 1.5 percent from Pakistan, 1.4 percent from Iraq, 14.7 percent from other countries, and 0.1 percent were stateless persons.
Among them, 72 percent were male, and 28 percent were female.
The largest increase in the number of visitors during the aforementioned period was registered among the citizens of Egypt (2.8 times), India and Pakistan (1.8 times), Turkmenistan (1.6 times), Hungary (47.7 percent), China (32.7 percent), Japan (32.3 percent), Oman (24.4 percent), South Korea (23.8 percent), Georgia (23.7 percent) and Poland (21.3 percent).
In January-February 2019, the number of people arriving from EU member states increased by 1.6 percent, reaching 11,500 people, while the number of those who came from the CIS states decreased by 0.9 percent, making up 121,900 people.
As many as 63.9 percent of foreigners and stateless persons who arrived in Azerbaijan used railways and road transport, while 35.2 percent used airways and 0.9 percent used water transport.
Generally, in recent years, the development of the tourism industry has received the closest attention of the leadership of Azerbaijan. In the cities of country, in resort areas, in the mountains and on the Caspian coast, dozens of international-class hotels were built, worldwide networks opened their hotels, water parks and extensive recreation areas were created.
Successful holding of events of international significance in Azerbaijan has a positive impact on the number of tourists arriving in the country.
As an example, by 2023, it is planned to increase the incoming tourist flow to Azerbaijan to four million people thanks to the "Grand Prix of Azerbaijan" races of the Formula 1 series which to be held in Baku on 26-28 April 2019 and attracts greater interest rather than previous ones.
So, 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.
The successful holding of such great events has turned Azerbaijan into a country recognizable by everyone in the world, and a country that many foreigners wish to visit as soon as possible.
Moreover, 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.
In 2018, 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan, showing a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017.
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