By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan has become the winner of the competition "The Best Tourist Directions-2015" held by the National Geographic Traveler magazine in the nomination "Opening of Year".
The diploma of the winner was handed to Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu at the rewarding ceremony which took place in Moscow on November 18. The diploma was handed by the famous Russian TV host Mikhail Kozhukhov.
The ambassador addressed the event and thanked the magazine readers for the award.
Emphasizing that Azerbaijan is very attractive country for tourists, he said beautiful scenery, hospitable people, delicious cuisine, and Absheron’s pearl beaches make the country attractive for tourists.
Noting that Azerbaijan has all conditions for spending wonderful holiday both in winter and summer, Bulbuloglu informed the audience about the new ski resorts recently opened in the country.
He cited the Shahdag Winter and Summer Tourism Complex, which is located close to the Azerbaijan-Russian border, as an example.
“Also, the "Tufandag" ski resort in Gabala has several slopes both for beginners and experienced. The city has very prestigious hotels and has direct flights to Moscow," Bulbuloglu added.
Azerbaijan also got the top three winners in the "Culinary tourism" category.
The annual "National Geographic Traveler Awards" contest, attracting 240,000 voters was held in 18 nominations between June 29 and October 31, to determine the best travel destinations for the year and provided information on newer and less popular travel sites.
Alongside Azerbaijan the winners became the following countries: “Beach vacation” - Thailand, “Family holiday” - Croatia, “Skiing vacation” - Switzerland, “Sightseeing vacation” - China, “Farmhouse” - Italy, “Wellness vacation” - South Korea, “Eco tourism” - Malaysia, “Adventure vacation” - New Zealand, “Russian tourism” - Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, “Culinary tourism” - France, “Exotic travel” - Ethiopia.
Moreover, the competition determined: “Best foreign airlines” - Turkish Airlines, “Best Russian airline" - S7 Airlines, "Best hotel chain" - Anantara, "Best beach hotel" - Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, "Best Online Service" - Kayak.ru, and "Best transfer travel" - “Mir naiznanku.”
The rich historical, cultural, and natural heritage of Azerbaijan attracts visitors from all over the world to view its pristine landscapes, mineral springs, unique ancient architecture, culture, and cuisine.
Overall, tourism in the Land of Fire has doubled since 2006. In the first eight months of this year, over one million tourists visited Azerbaijan, while over 2 million tourists came to Azerbaijan last year, which resulted in more than one billion manat (over $950,000 million) in revenue from tourism.
The sharp rise is linked with the simplification of the visa regime for tourists, creating greater opportunities for the tourism sector. The system of electronic visas to simplify the paperwork of foreign tourists arriving in Azerbaijan introduced in March 2013, has a positive effect on the country’s tourism.
Currently, Azerbaijan can accommodate more than 35,000 tourists in its 530 hotels. The country hosts a series of prestigious hotels such as Jumeirah, Excelsior, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, JW Marriott, Kempinski.
Many budget hotels for cost-conscious travelers, starting from $15 and increasing depending on the hotel class and amenities provided are also operating in the country.
Soon,the Land of Fire may increase the number of world famous two-to-three-star hotels to boost the tourist flow.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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