By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Russia have quite a big potential for cooperation in the field of tourism, including the exchange of tourists.
Russia is one of the main participants in the tourism market of Azerbaijan. This is facilitated by the absence of a language barrier, abundance of opportunities for recreation and entertainment in the country.
Azerbaijan State Tourism Agency continues negotiations with Russian partners on implementation of joint tourism projects, Kanan Guluzade, Head of the public relations department of the Agency, told Trend.
He stressed that the sides mull possible options for the creation of joint pilot projects in the North Caucasus region.
“Presently, the sides discuss details of upcoming joint projects, the implementation of which can begin before late 2019,” he said.
Guluzade noted that both countries are interested in close cooperation in the tourism sector, especially given the great potential that has not been used enough so far.
He noted that the projects are aimed at creating new tourist routes between Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as at developing the resort and sanatorium sector.
Moscow and St. Petersburg keep the status of most popular Russian cities among Azerbaijani tourists. Moreover, the sanatorium-resorts in Russia are the favorite destinations for Azerbaijani tourists. Locals are especially interested in the resorts of Mineralnye Vody in the North Caucasus.
In addition, Azerbaijani tourists began to choose the Russian city of Zheleznovodsk more often for rest and treatment. As many as 1,500 Azerbaijani tourists visited this Russian city last year.
There are several sanatoriums North Caucasus built with Azerbaijani investments, one of which is the modern sanatorium "Istochnik" in Yessentuki. The total investment of the project amounted to 1.5 billion rubles. At the same time, the two countries are working on a joint project to build a spa complex in Kislovodsk and a sanatorium in Zheleznovodsk. The commissioning of these facilities is scheduled for 2020.
Azerbaijan and Russia are also establishing active cooperation between the ski resorts of Azerbaijan and North Caucasus. The possibility of the connection the Azerbaijani and North Caucasian resorts of Russia by a single ski pass was discussed during a business forum in Grozny December 2018.
In addition, two countries intend to organize cruises in the Caspian Sea in order to increase tourist potential of the countries. The organization of cruises in the sea is planned to start from 2020. Azerbaijan will become an even more attractive tourist destination after the launch of cruises.
Azerbaijan is a recognizable and attractive tourist destination for Russian citizens in both summer and winter. The presence of nine climate zones in Azerbaijan allows tourists to ski in the snowy mountains, as well as relax in sandy beaches, participate in interesting festivals and sports events.
There are several reasons why Russian tourists are heading to Azerbaijan for their vacation. Tourists are attracted by the quality of the hotels, various excursion programs and the development of sanitary and spa complexes.
In addition, lack of language restrictions and the possibility of visa-free travel are also important factors for the development of tourism between the two countries.
Opening of Azerbaijan Tourism Board in Russia will promote the recognition of Azerbaijan by Russians as a tourist destination. The official representation of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board has been operating in Moscow since December 2018.
Russia was the leader in the tourism market of Azerbaijan in 2018. Thus, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries arrived in Azerbaijan during the year and Russians make up the largest part of the tourists having a share of 30.9 percent (about 900,000).
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz