By Leman Mammadova
International tourism fairs are considered to be a great opportunity for every country to promote its tourism potential as well as to meet with world's tourism industry participants to stimulate tourist flow to the country.
Azerbaijani delegation has participated in ITB China international exhibition in Shanghai in order to promote the country’s tourism potential.
With the support of the State Tourism Agency and Azerbaijan Tourism Board, the country was represented at the exhibition by Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), Baku Convention Center, Silkway Travel, Flame Travel, HIS, China Travel and Turizm.az companies.
At the exhibition, where Azerbaijan was represented for the first time, the country introduced new tourism products as well as its tourism potential for Chinese market.
Florian Sengstschmid, Executive Director of Azerbaijan Tourism Board, noted that China is one of the key priority markets for attracting tourists to Azerbaijan. He stressed that the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the State Tourism Agency and the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism is an important step towards intensifying tourism relations.
Sengstschmid also noted that marketing and propaganda work is underway in major cities in China, which is one of the target countries in accordance with the new tourism strategy of Azerbaijan. He added that participation in ITB China is an integral part of this process.
“The number of Chinese tourists [in Azerbaijan] has grown by 50 percent in the first four months of the year compared to the same period of last year. We believe that these figures will further increase by the end of the year,” he said.
ITB China, an international exhibition focused on China's travel industry, brought together many tourists from the world's tourism industry to give countries opportunity to showcase their tourism opportunities to the Chinese market. More than 800 companies from 84 countries demonstrated the latest innovation and information technologies in the tourism industry.
Recently, Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding with the leading Chinese travel company ETI-Holidays (Beijing HUAYUAN International Travel Co., LTD), that envisages increasing the flow of Chinese tourists to Azerbaijan via Beijing-Baku flight and from here to other countries in order to increase Baku’s transit capacity.
At present, AZAL carries out Baku-Beijing-Baku direct regular flights. It is also planned to launch flights from Baku to other Chinese cities.
The direct flights between Azerbaijan and China, as well as the Azerbaijani government's simplifying visa regime for Chinese tourists are of great potential for developing relations between the two countries in the field of tourism.
Since 2018, the official tourism representative office operating in China is actively working to introduce Azerbaijan's tourism potential in major Chinese cities.
The National Tourism Promotion Bureau considers the Chinese market to be one of the priority for attracting tourists. Since 2017, the tourism potential of Azerbaijan has been more actively promoted in this country.
In addition, Azerbaijan and Chinese tourism companies signed a cooperation agreement in April 2018. In first period, the companies specializing in health tourism are eager to attract 2,000 more tourists per year on the basis of this agreement.
Chinese experts say that about 1 million Chinese patients travel abroad every year for health tourism. They consider that their citizens will mostly like Naftalan.
Recently, Azerbaijan and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on simplifying group visits of Chinese tourists to Azerbaijan.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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