Azerbaijan seeks to maximize gastro-tourism potential [PHOTO]
By Laman Ismayilova
With its rich cuisine, Azerbaijan never ceases to attract tourists from all over the world. True gourmets and foodies flock to the Land of Fire seeking luscious food.
The Azerbaijani cuisine and gastro-tourism have been widely discussed at the National Culinary Congress in Baku, Azernews reports via Azertac.
The congress creates a great platform for expanding cooperation between local food producers and farmers.
Speaking at the culinary congress, chairman of the State Tourism Agency Fuad Naghiyev stressed that the country's leadership pays special attention to the development of tourism.
"We have a variety of tourism products that we can introduce to foreign tourists coming to the country. Azerbaijan has great potential to be recognized as a country of gastronomic tourism. Favorable climatic conditions and fertile soils have an effect on both the diversity and the taste of natural food. The development of gastronomic tourism helps to present to the world not only our national cuisine but also the country's rich material and cultural heritage and its historical traditions. At all international events where our country is represented, the Azerbaijani cuisine and tourism potential arouse the great interest of the international community," Fuad Naghiyev said.
Recalling that the first International Culinary Festival organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the State Tourism Agency was held in Shusha in May, Naghiyev highly appreciated the organization of such a festival in Shusha, the pearl of Karabakh.
"The 1st International Culinary Festival demonstrated culinary samples from 11 countries, as well as 14 Azerbaijani districts. Gastronomic tourism is developing harmoniously with both regional tourism and agro-and-eco tourism. In this regard, one of the projects supported by the State Tourism Agency is "Expanding the value chain of the community base in the territory of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan '', a pilot project Slow Food. The project covered Shamakhi, Ismayilli, Gabala, Sheki, and Gakh. Similar routes might be created along other tourist corridors," Naghiyev added.
He added that such projects are important in terms of identifying the forgotten, historical food, protecting their biodiversity, and achieving recognition of local gastronomy.
"Since gastronomic tourism combines two very important areas for Azerbaijan - tourism and agriculture, it can help support small businesses and family businesses in the regions, and as a result, increase the income of the local population and improve well-being. As the State Tourism Agency, we also support all public organizations working in the field of tourism and public associations working in the culinary field. As we always point out, our strength is in our unity. Industry cooperation is a very important factor. We must work to achieve the desired goal. The agency is always ready to provide you with comprehensive support in this direction. We believe that today's congress is particularly important in this regard," he concluded.
Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sports Farid Gayibov underlined the importance of the role of youth in the preservation and development of national cuisine. The minister emphasized that the state has created conditions for youth activities in all areas, including in the field of cooking.
He also noted that the ministry supports the participation of young people working in the culinary field in international competitions. According to him, holding panel meetings during the day will help eliminate existing shortcomings in this area.
Farid Gayibov said that the professional development of young people is of great importance. Supporting young chefs at international competitions is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Executive director of the State Tourism Bureau Florian Sengstschmid said that the Azerbaijani cuisine is widely promoted at international events. He added that the measures taken to develop ecotourism are to promote gastronomic tourism and national winemaking traditions.
" The field of winemaking occupies a special place in gastro-tourism. To develop this area, work is being carried out in several directions. National cuisine should be available to local tourists. The Azerbaijani cuisine is diverse and should be presented in all parts of the country," he opined.
Director of the Azerbaijan National Culinary Center Orkhan Sadigov said that the preservation of the Azerbaijani cuisine is an important factor in the identification and national heritage.
He stressed that the main activity of the culinary center is aimed at improving the scientific and methodological base, the center is intended to become a scientific center that will become a reference center for institutions involved in the popularization of national cuisine and the creation of a register of national dishes.
Orkhan Sadigov invited everyone who wants to test himself/herself to the culinary center.
At the initiative of the State Tourism Agency and the National Culinary Center, food corners with samples of national cuisine will operate in all the embassies in Azerbaijan.
Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijan Culinary Association Farhad Ashurbayli spoke about the activities of the association and planned projects.
He noted that as a public organization that unites culinary experts, attaches great importance to holding such events and being represented at international competitions.
Director General of Caspian Event Organizers Farid Mammadov stressed the significance of the event and noted that such ceremonies play an important role in preserving national culinary traditions.
The congress was followed by panel sessions, and master classes by well-known chefs.
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