By Rasana Gasimova
Those providing travel services in tourism sector are expected to receive tax benefits in Azerbaijan, the CEO of Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), Florian Sengstschmid, has said.
Sengstschmid made the remark at the 2nd General Assembly of the Azerbaijan Hotel Association held in Baku on December 4, local media reported.
The event aimed to present the annual reports of the Azerbaijan Hotel Association, plans for the national classification system for hotels (stars), information on the strategy for 2020, etc.
Sengstschmid stressed the application of tax benefits may stimulate the further development of the tourism business in the country.
Sengstschmid also noted that positive changes are expected in 2020 after the adoption of Law on Tourism. He informed that the results of surveys in Shaki and Lankaran regions indicate that the respondents were least satisfied with airfares, the local travel market (tours) and the quality of the transport system.
Sengstschmid further said that the flow of incoming tourists from Iran to Azerbaijan has increased. He added that the number of incoming Russian and Saudi tourists is also growing, saying that an 8 percent growth has been observed in the number of Russian tourists in the tourism market of Azerbaijan.
"The number of incoming Georgian and Turkmen tourists is growing as well,” Sengstschmid concluded.
Sengstschmid also highlighted the growing number of Chinese tourist, saying that some work needs to be done to ensure the flow of Chinese tourists to Azerbaijan.
He emphasized that in 2020 new flights will be opened from China to Azerbaijan, which will help expand the country's tourism potential.
"The conclusion of new contracts is also envisaged. As a result, Azerbaijan will be able to show itself to tourists as a sustainable tourist destination," Sengstschmid added.
He went on to say that in 2020, the implementation of infrastructure projects is planned in Khinalig and other important touristic areas. He noted that in the near future the construction of the Mud Volcanoes Guest Center will begin.
He also emphasized that creating new routes of the country's cultural heritage sites are being considered:
"For example, in Sheki, where tourists often encounter difficulties in finding right direction, signs and information boards will help develop a network of local routes," Sengstschmid said.
President of Azerbaijan Hotel Association Martin Kleinmann spoke about the challenges and opportunities in the hotel industry and the achievements of the organization in 2019. Talking about the effectiveness of joint activities with government agencies in the development of the hotel business, he emphasized the support provided by the State Tourism Agency and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board to the association.
During the event, Azerbaijani and foreign experts expressed their views on topics such as the “National star classification”, “Legal legislation, tourism law, classification and the register”, “Competition and profitability in the hospitality industry”, “Tourism product prospects”, “Guest complaint management”, etc.
The first general assembly of Azerbaijan Hotel Association was held on December 4, 2018, to unite the hotel industry specialists and inform the assembly participants about the structure, charter, future activities, goals of the Association. As many as 36 hotels are already members of Azerbaijan Hotel Association.
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