By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan and Iran have discussed opportunities for further tourism cooperation during the second Iran-Azerbaijan tourism symposium held on in Tehran February 15.
The symposium, organized by the Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran and “Aysan Parvaz” company, was attended by the leading tourism companies operating in Iran, representatives of Iran’s Economic Cooperation Organization and media representatives, local media reported.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Tourism Agency Fuad Nagiyev said that in recent years Azerbaijan and Iran have been developing relations in the field of tourism.
Nagiyev noted that this year, 3 group matches and 1/4 finals in the final stage of the European Football Championship will be held in Baku.
He reminded that the city of Gabala was chosen as “Tourism Capital of Islamic Countries” in 2020, noting that a number of international events will be held in Gabala, including the 11th meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Nagiyev said tourism relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are expanding. In 2019, more than 255,000 Iranian tourists visited Azerbaijan, which is 6.3 percent more than in 2018. He added that Iran is one of the most visited countries by Azerbaijani citizens, as well.
He went on saying that many Iranian tourists come to Azerbaijan during the Novruz holiday, adding that work is underway to make it easier for tourists to visit Azerbaijan. Nagiyev noted that since December 2019, the visa regime was abolished to facilitate the travel of Iranian citizens to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and daily direct flights between Tehran and Baku are being carried out.
For his part, Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan Javad Jahangirzadeh noted that the countries enjoy friendly and fraternal relations. “Mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries in all areas is showing an upward trend. Tourism is also one of the most important sectors of the economy,” he said.
“Mutual tourism visits are in the best interests of both countries. The fact that people have kin relations is one of the factors that contribute to the tourism development. It is important to use this opportunity and develop tourism,” Jahangirzadeh noted.
Azerbaijani Ambassador to Iran Bunyad Huseynov said that relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are based on a shared history, ancient traditions of friendship and brotherhood. He emphasized that over the past 7 years, there have been Presidents of Azerbaijan and Iran have held 13 meetings, more than 150 mutual high-level visits have been held and more than 75 documents have been signed.
Huseynov noted that Azerbaijan is one of the most comfortable destinations for Iranian citizens. He stressed that ASAN Visa has been created to facilitate travel to the country. At the same time, Iranian citizens are issued visas at the airports.
“Baku-Tehran, Baku-Tabriz and Baku-Mashhad flights are being carried out. Azerbaijan is ready to launch flights to other cities in Iran. Three of the four border checkpoints on the Azerbaijan-Iran border are operating 24/7 to facilitate the flow of people from both countries,” he said.
Huseynov went on to say that a new highway has been laid from Astara border crossing to Baku, reducing the driving time from four to two and a half hours. There is a passenger train operating in Tabriz-Nakhchivan and Nakhchivan-Mashhad directions.
He informed that Iranian tourists become attracted by the tax free system and trade festivals held in Azerbaijan. Moreover, the country has great opportunities for tourism investment and business activities.
“All of this has led to an increase in the number of tourist trips between the two countries. The friendship, mutually beneficial relations and historical ties between the countries also contribute to the tourism development,” he said.
As part of the event, Azerbaijan’s Association of Tourism Agencies of and Iran’s Association of Tourism Agencies of signed a Memorandum of Cooperation.
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