By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan, which combines both Eastern and Western cultures, is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for international tourists.
The number of foreign tourists and stateless persons from 108 countries visiting Azerbaijan made up 1.1 million in the first five months of this year.
According to the State Statistical Committee, this is 3.7 percent more than in the same period of 2018.
As for the origin countries, 28.5 percent of the tourists came from Russia, 26 percent - Georgia, 10.9 percent - Turkey, 7.7 percent - Iran, 3 percent – the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 1.9 percent each - Ukraine and India, 1.6 percent each – the UK and Turkmenistan, 1.2 percent each - Pakistan and Iraq, 14.4 percent - other countries, and 0.1 percent accounted for stateless persons.
As many as 69.1 percent of tourists were men, and 30.9 percent – women.
During the reporting period, the number of tourists who came from the EU countries increased by 27.8 percent to 54,400 people, and of those from the CIS countries - by 3.6 percent to 380,800 people.
It is noteworthy that the tourist flow to Azerbaijan from Turkmenistan increased 1.9 times, from Egypt and China - 1.8 times, India and Saudi Arabia - 1.7 times, the UK – by 42.3 percent, South Korea - by 31.4 percent, Japan - by 30.1 percent, Germany - by 28 percent, Canada - by 27.7 percent, Poland - by 23.4 percent, and Georgia - by 22.7 percent.
In January-May 2019, the number of Azerbaijani citizens who went abroad increased by 25.5 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching 2 million people.
Some 39.5 percent of Azerbaijanis went to Iran, 27 percent - to Georgia, 18.3 percent - to Russia, 9.8 percent - to Turkey, and 5.4 percent - to other countries.
The number of Azerbaijani citizens who went to Iran increased by 73.6 percent, to Georgia - by 10.6 percent, to Russia - by 5.6 percent, and to Turkey - by 0.1 percent.
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 Azerbaijan, including rural, health, environmental, cultural, social, commercial, sport, etc.
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.
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.
Azerbaijan aims to develop tourism sector by all possible means to ensure sustainable development of the non-oil sector.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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