By Leman Mammadova
As many as 2.4 million tourists visited Azerbaijan in January-September 2019. This is 9.6 percent more compared to the same period in 2018.
The largest part of tourists - 1.26 million or 52 percent - accounted for Russians and Georgians, the State Tourism Agency has stated.
In particular, 724,730 Russians visited Azerbaijan in the reporting period against 688,163 in the first nine months of 2018. In addition, 530,873 thousand tourists arrived from Georgia in January-September 2019, against 436,361 people in 2018.
The top five countries by the number of tourists arriving in Azerbaijan also includes Middle Eastersn countries – 291, 126 people (decrease by 6.4 percent), Turkey – 233,322 (increase by 5.9 percent), and Iran - 197, 535 people (decrease by 4.9 percent).
However, the number of visitors from Saudi Arabia increased by 42.4 percent to 93,000.
The increase in tourist flow is observed from the countries of Central (45.8 percent) and South Asia (38 percent). The largest markets in South Asia are India (45,000 travelers) and Pakistan (33,000 travelers). As for Central Asia, the largest number of tourists arrived from Turkmenistan (39,000) and Kazakhstan (35,600).
At the same time, as many as 950,700 tourists arrived in Azerbaijan from China, India, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, where the representative offices have been operating since December 2018. This is 72,000 or 8 percent more than in the same period last year.
As for September alone, 280,000 people visited Azerbaijan, which is 20.8 percent more than the same month in 2018.
In particular, 70,907 people came from Russia (an increase of 8 percent), 58,440 people - Georgia (an increase of 13 percent), 33,142 people - Iran (a 2-fold increase), 29,619 people - Turkey (an increase of 11.7 percent), 27,132 people - Middle East countries (an increase of 7.5 percent), and the rest - from other countries and regions.
Azerbaijan enjoys a great potential for the development of tourism. Nature, climate, historical monuments, cuisine, rich culture of the people and other factors lay the foundation for the development of many areas of tourism. There are wide opportunities for Azerbaijan to be recognized as a tourist destination in the world.
Last year, as many as 2,849,600 tourists from 196 countries visited Azerbaijan. This constituted a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2017. Azerbaijan seeks to further develop the tourism sphere 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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