By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists. In February 2016, the country simplified the procedure of obtaining visas for citizens of Gulf countries and this played a major role in the growth of tourist flow from the Middle East.
Currently, Azerbaijan aims to increase the number of tourists arriving from the countries of the Persian Gulf by 20 percent, said Florian Sengstschmid, Chief Executive Director of the Azerbaijan Tourism Bureau, in an interview with The National.
He noted that the number of tourists from Arab countries arriving in Azerbaijan in 2018 increased by 30 percent and amounted to 200,000 people.
“The countries of the Persian Gulf are in third place on the flow of tourists to Azerbaijan after Russia and Georgia. It is assumed that from 2019, the number of Arab tourists will rise even more and will reach 240,000 people,” Sengstschmid noted.
He emphasized that the Persian Gulf states are a very important market for Azerbaijan.
“Over the past two years, such airlines of the Gulf countries as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Flydubai and Air Arabia have opened direct flights to Baku and Gabala,” Sengstschmid said.
Moreover, he noted that Azerbaijan plans to attract potential clients from the Gulf countries which are investing in the rapidly growing real estate, manufacturing and service sectors, as well as to develop business tourism.
According to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, in 2018, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries visited the country. Tourists spent over $2 billion in Azerbaijan last year. Currently, the country takes consistent measures to develop not only the sightseeing tourism but also health, rural and cruise tourism.
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 the Gulf countries.
Official tourism representative offices of Azerbaijan have been operating in Riyadh and Dubai since the end of last year.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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