By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
To reach substantial success in developing health tourism, Azerbaijan has significant opportunities which include therapeutic mineral and thermal waters, mild climate and fascinating natural landscapes - forests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls.
Ruslan Guliyev, Chairman of the Azerbaijani Association for Support of Medical and Thermal Tourism and President of the World Health Tourism Organization, told Trend that worldwide turnover of health tourism is estimated by billions of dollars and as an alternative, this type of tourism is very relevant in Azerbaijan.
He stated that popularity of health tourism is very high around the world, and the number of people interested in it is growing year by year.
Guliyev also said that environmental disasters or local wars cannot be barrier for tourists who make health trips and noted that health tourism is always profitable.
“Usually such tourism involves treatment and staying for 7, 14 and 21 days. This is of great importance in terms of attracting tourists to the country, both in and off the season," the Association chairman said.
Speaking about relevance of this type of tourism in Azerbaijan, he stressed that Azerbaijan has an availability of natural potential for the development of any directions in this field and has already earned popularity as a tourist destination in this regard.
Then Guliyev added that the decrees and orders signed in recent years by President Ilham Aliyev play an important role in the development of this industry and facilitate to determining a road map for development of tourism for at least the next 10 years.
“With that being said, I am pleased that these documents also gave a significant impetus to the development of the field of health tourism,” he noted.
Further, the chairman emphasized that there is no competition between health facilities in Azerbaijan and each resort has its own purpose.
Guliyev pointed out that Naftalan oil, which has no equal in the world, is mainly used to treat rheumatism, as well as joint and skin diseases while the water of Galaalti is used to treat kidney stone disease (nephrolithiasis) and the water of Duzdag is used to treat bronchial asthma.
He underlined that there is necessity to popularize these locations and said that it is not a difficult issue for Azerbaijani Association for Support of Medical and Thermal Tourism.
“We widely promote them, in accordance with their specific features, at various international events and exhibitions," Guliyev said.
The number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for medical treatment in January-November 2018 increased by 30 percent compared to the same period last year. Many of the locals and foreign tourists visit Istisu, Naftalan, Galaalti, Duzdagh health centers for treatment. The number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for medical treatment is expected to increase by 18 percent in 2019.
Tourists are especially interested to visit Naftalan city. Naftalan is a unique health center. Naftalan oil, which is considered a remedy of many diseases, popularized Azerbaijan long before the oil boom that made Baku famous in the 19th century.
The world’s only museum of crutches is also located in the city. The exhibits in the museum are crutches left by tourists who came to Naftalan for treatment
Moreover, there are around 300 mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan. The mud is used for treatment of radiculitis, skin, cardiovascular, gynecological, urological diseases, and gastrointestinal disturbances. It is widely used in the cosmetology.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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