By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijani delegation is participating at the 26th annual International Tourism Fair “Arabian Travel Market 2019” (ATM) in Dubai, the UAE, which is considered to be one of the largest and most prestigious international exhibitions.
The exhibition started on April 28 and will last until May 1.
ATM is the leading international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. This is an excellent opportunity for all participants to present their tourism opportunities, to establish closer ties, and to reach cooperation agreements.
With the organizational support of the State Tourism Agency and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board, 28 tourist companies and hotels, including Pasha Travel, Silk WayTravel, Zakher Travel and other well-known local companies as well as Azerbaijan Airlines and Heydar Aliyev International Airport represent Azerbaijan at this prestigious exhibition. Representatives of the Association of Football Federation of Azerbaijan (AFFA) are also attending the exhibition in order to promote the UEFA Europa League final match, which will take place in Baku on May 29.
Head of the Azerbaijani delegation, Executive Director of Azerbaijan Tourism Board Florian Sengstschmid said that the Middle East market is of particular importance for Azerbaijan. He hailed the importance of the ATM 2019 in terms of strengthening ties among the key players of the Middle East market and attracting Arab tourists.
In turn, Spokesman of the Azerbaijani State Tourism Agency Kanan Guluzade told Azertag that the participation of so many Azerbaijani travel companies in the prestigious international exhibition is of great importance in terms of promoting the tourism potential of Azerbaijan and increasing tourist flow from the Arab countries, the Persian Gulf, African countries and all over the world.
In his words, the State Tourism Agency and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board are making maximum efforts to attract as many tourists as possible not only from the Middle East region, but also from all over the world, and participation in such an event is an excellent opportunity to once again present Azerbaijan's huge tourism potential.
The representative of the State Tourism Agency also noted that ATM exhibition is a tool of Azerbaijan's tourism promotion campaign. He recalled that in November 2018, Azerbaijan introduced the new tourism brand at the London exhibition and according to this concept, the country is expected to participate in 20 exhibitions by 2020.
“ATM is the largest tourism fair in this region and we have an extensive representation of the entire Middle East as an exhibition. Our main goal is to increase the flow of tourists from Arab countries and other regions to Azerbaijan and to make this growth sustainable.”
Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists. 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.
According to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, in 2018, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries visited Azerbaijan. As many as 554,100 people came from the Gulf countries, and almost every fifth who arrived in Azerbaijan was a citizen of these countries.
In January-March 2019, the number of visitors from the Gulf countries amounted to 106,800.
Simplification of visa regime played a major role in the growth of tourist flow from the Middle East. In February 2016, Azerbaijan simplified the procedure of obtaining visas for citizens of Gulf countries.
Recently, Flynas, Saudi Arabia's leading low-cost airline, has announced its plan to launch flights to Baku. This will contribute to the further growth in tourist flow to Baku from Gulf countries.
Official tourism representative offices of Azerbaijan have been operating in Riyadh and Dubai since the end of last year.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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