By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan’s tourism companies and China’s leading tour operators have discussed cooperation opportunities in the sphere of tourism in a meeting held on October 16 in Baku.
The meeting was organized by the Azerbaijan Tourism Board to bring the local tourism and hospitality industry members and Chinese tourism industry representatives together and to facilitate their cooperation.
Representatives of six leading Chinese travel companies and more than 60 Azerbaijani tour operators attended the B2B (Business-to-Business) meeting. They were provided with detailed information about Azerbaijan and its tourism opportunities, tourist routes, hotels, ancient architectural monuments and national cuisine.
Tours to the tourist facilities of the capital and regions of Azerbaijan will be organized for the Chinese tour operators, which will be staying in the country until October 20, to provide more detailed information about the country's tourism potential and key tourism infrastructure.
Note that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Azerbaijan amounted to 20,000 in January-September 2019. This is a 64 percent increase compared to the same period of 2018.
The official Representative Office of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board opened in Beijing in December 2018.
Azerbaijan Tourism Board considers the Chinese market to be one of the priorities 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 Azerbaijan’s Naftalan.
Recently, Azerbaijan and China signed a memorandum of understanding on simplifying group visits of Chinese tourists to Azerbaijan.
Chinese travel company - ETI-Holidays is planning to launch flights from another Chinese city (besides Beijing) to Azerbaijan in 2020.
In January-June 2019, Azerbaijan was visited by 1.4 million foreign tourists, which recorded 86,000 tourists or 6.5 percent growth compared to the same period of 2018. As for Asian tourists, 54,100 tourists from Central Asia visited Azerbaijan (an increase of 38 percent).
Azerbaijan’s main tourist markets of South Asia are India (27,000 tourists, increase of 80.2 percent) and Pakistan (19,000 tourists, increase of 24.4 percent).
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