By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan makes a New Year gift to tourists who want to come to the country, as visa requirements will be simplified.
Earlier, all tourists despite the budget needed to book a hotel room in order to get a visa to Azerbaijan, soon will be able to stay in cottages or private apartments as well.
Head of the Inbound and Domestic Tourism Committee at the Azerbaijan Tourism Association, Murad Keremov told Fins.az that village house will be able to provide the reservation, which is necessary for the visa document.
He added that this rule applies not only village cottages, but private apartments, and tents that meet the necessary standards. Rural houses, mountain shelters and farmhouses were included into the classification of hotels and hotel-type facilities under the recent decision by the Standardization, Metrology and Patents Committee.
This decision is good news for both tourists who want to visit the country as well as for local tourists, Keremov believes.
The positive aspect for foreign tourists is that they can stay not only in hotels now, he said. “One part of tourists who wish to visit the country want to stay in village cottages, foreign tourists are not interested in expensive, luxury hotel. Incoming tourists want to stay in the mountains, to go to the top of the mountain, or to taste vegetables grown in the village. This is a type of tourism when the tourists stay in homes of local people, and live with them.”
He noted that many of tourists coming to Azerbaijan want to visit ethnic minorities, get familiar with them. The new standard adopted in Azerbaijan will open up the door for this type of tourists.
Azerbaijan has both natural beauty, historical and cultural diversity to show to their visitors.
Currently, the country can accommodate over 35,000 tourists in its 530 hotels, which include a series of luxury hotels – Jumeirah, Excelsior, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, JW Marriott, Kempinski – as well as many budget hotels for cost-conscious travelers. The country also plans to operate world famous 2-3 stars hotels.
Prices for accommodation in the country start from $15 and increase depending on the hotel class and amenities provided.
Moreover, the new decision will increase competition between hotels and hotel type facilities, which may further decrease the prices.
Visa applications to Azerbaijan are considered within a month at the latest, or 48 hours if the visit is urgent. Moreover, tourists can also get their visa online at www.evisa.mfa.gov.az.
Local population will also enjoy this new decision as tourist companies will start cooperating with village houses. As a result, everyone will be able to choose tour pack suiting every budget.
Keremov said there are still points to be clarified in this regard, for instance, who will provide tourists with the booking document. The certificate can be presented by either tourism companies or the homeowners.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry said a decision on this issue is yet to be achieved. The ministry is holding discussions with relevant tourism associations.
The simplest versions will be chosen taking into account opinions of both the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the electronic services related to the issuance of visas.
The more attractive prices for foreign tourists that were reached after the recent depreciation of the manat and decrease of prices for services in many hotel type facilities may open undiscovered places in Azerbaijan for tourists who previously preferred to visit cheaper destinations like neighboring Georgia and Turkey.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’ staff journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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