By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan is becoming a well-known tourist destination due to the its increasingly growing influence in the global tourism market.
As many as 848,400 tourists and stateless persons from 170 countries visited Azerbaijan in January-April 2019, which is 0.1 percent more compared to the same period in 2018, according to the State Border Service of Azerbaijan.
Russia accounts for 27.3 percent of the foreigners who arrived in Azerbaijan during the reporting period, while Georgia accounts for 26.8 percent, Turkey - 11.1 percent, Iran - 8 percent, the UAE - 3.8 percent, Ukraine and India - 1.8 percent each, Pakistan - 1.4 percent, Iraq - 1.3 percent, citizens of other countries - 16.6 percent, and stateless persons - 0.1 percent.
Men accounted for 69.5 percent of the visitors, while 30.5 percent were women.
Compared to January-April 2018, the number of Egyptian citizens visiting the country increased by 2.2 times, Saudi Arabians - 1.9 times, Indians and Turkmens - 1.8 times, Chinese - 1.6 times, Japanese - 37, 1 percent, Canadians - 31.8 percent, Pakistanis - 28.8 percent, Georgians - 22.6 percent, Polish - 20.8 percent and South Koreans - 20.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists from the EU countries increased by 7 percent in the first four months of 2019 and reached 34,200 people, and of those from the Gulf countries decreased by 27.5 percent to 142,900 people.
At the same time, the number of visitors from the CIS countries decreased by 1 percent and amounted to 282,000 people.
Azerbaijan, the popular destination for many tourists, attracts millions of visitors every year. 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.
It is noteworthy that 2.8 million tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan in 2018, showing a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017. Last year, Russian, Georgian, Turkish and Iranian citizens made up the largest part of the tourists arriving in the country. In 2018, there was a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Gulf countries.
In recent years, the creation of a diversified tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan has increased the interest of foreign tourists to the country. There are many opportunities for tourism in our country, including rural, health, environmental, cultural, social, commercial, sport, etc.
Moreover, simplification of the visa regime 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.
The successful holding of international events has also turned Azerbaijan into a country recognizable by everyone in the world, and a country that many foreigners wish to visit as soon as possible.
Azerbaijan confidently moves ahead to expand activities in the tourism sphere. Every year, Azerbaijan’s State Tourism Agency takes part in many international tourism fairs to promote the tourism potential of country.
Since the end of last year, Azerbaijan tourism representative offices have been operating in six cities - Frankfurt (Germany), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Beijing (China), Mumbai (India) and Moscow (Russia).
At the same time, it is planned to open permanent tourism offices of Azerbaijan in the UK, France, Iran and South Korea.
Representations aim to achieve greater recognition of the country abroad, to increase the flow of tourists from target markets, and to promote the development of tourism in the country as a whole.
In the modern world, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing and profitable sectors of the economy for each country. Therefore, Azerbaijan aims to develop this sphere by all possible means. Sustainable development of the non-oil sector, in particular the tourism sector, is crucial at a time when it is impossible to fully rely on oil and gas industry.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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