Azerbaijan earns on tourism more than its neighbors, while not being the champion of the region in terms of tourist flow, CEO of Azerbaijan Tourism Board Florian Sengstschmid said in an interview with Russia's Profi.Travel company, Trend reports referring to the company.
Sengstschmid noted that according to the World Tourism Organization, 2.4 million tourists in 2017 brought more than $3 billion to Azerbaijan’s economy - 10 percent more than to Georgia, which in the same year received one and a half times more guests.
In 2018, 2.8 million tourists visited Azerbaijan, and the country expects the number to be more than 3 million in 2019, the CEO added.
Azerbaijan Tourism Board plans to make tourism the second biggest contributor to GDP, Sengstschmid said.
“In fact, tourism is the second most important sector of Azerbaijan’s economy after oil production,” the CEO added. “Meanwhile, oil and gas sector holds the predominant share of Azerbaijan’s GDP, whereas tourism - only 3-4 percent. However, the potential of the tourism industry is huge, it can help a lot in diversifying the economy. Now it’s very important for the Azerbaijani people to show what they can offer to the world. This concerns not only Baku, but also remote mountain villages, where there is also much to see.”
Sengstschmid said that the five areas, in which Azerbaijan’s potential is greatest both in terms of uniqueness and in terms of the opportunity to actively develop further, include historical tourism, health tourism, adventure tourism, gastronomic and nature tourism.
“For example, regarding health tourism, only Azerbaijan has a one-of-a-kind naphthalene deposit and a unique complex of Duzdag salt caves,” the CEO noted. “This doesn’t mean that we put health tourism at the forefront, but it is our strong side, so we will focus on the development of these options."
"The same is true with culture: we are promoting Baku, focusing on Azerbaijani jazz, for example,” he added.
Speaking about important markets for Azerbaijan’s tourism, Sengstschmid noted Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
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