Tourism: is Azerbaijan replacing Turkey?
Azerbaijan is actively developing its tourism industry today. However, it admits that to develop tourism, especially in the current economic crisis, a lot of problems should be solved. These is use of anti-crisis technologies, pricing policy, implementation of competitive services, simplified taxation, an increase of professionalism of staff, the transport system, modernization of infrastructure, simplification of the visa regimes with the countries which are interesting for foreign tourism, use of beneficial taxation, and low interest on loans to business.
“I would be the happiest man in the world if the 4 million Russian citizens who used to visit Turkey began visiting Azerbaijan. I am glad to state that the tourist interest in Azerbaijan is growing. A good chance is opening up for our neighbors to draw tourists’ attention. The prospects of development of tourism in Azerbaijan are good; and the country is making the sphere one of its priorities. However, it's one thing to talk about tourism, it's another thing to create a tourist business,” the Ambassador of Russia to Azerbaijan, Vladimir Dorokhin, told KP.
Meanwhile, the First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Public Chamber's commission on the development of public diplomacy and support for compatriots abroad, the director of the Institute of Political Studies, political scientist, Sergey Markov, thinks “we have a very large pool in the sphere of tourism. The high ski season is ahead in March. The flows that go to the Alps have reduced sharply; because of the exchange rate it has become more expensive. People will not go to the ski resorts of Turkey. And here is a great opportunity for Azerbaijan to replace them. I know that fine resorts are opened there, for example, the Gabarinsky resort. There are great opportunities for a vacation.”
At the same time, Markov admits that he has not seen advertising of the Gabarinksy mountain-ski resort in Russia: “Now we have not yet felt the collapse of the Turkish tourist destinations. But it will be very serious. Azerbaijani travel companies should offer the Caspian Sea with its sandy beaches, beautiful fruits and hospitable population that speaks Russian to replace the Turkish destination.”
As for cultural tourism, Markov thinks Baku will be very interesting: “At present, Baku is just a fairy tale. Among the advanced youth of Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is considered to be quite prestigious and interesting to go to Baku, to see the new quay, these huge, magnificent buildings of modern architecture. But the fact is that they go there almost exclusively on their own. And where are the travel companies? Why can't I see the tours to modern Baku in which the government has invested so much money? A lot of people will go to the Heydar Aliyev Center, no matter what exhibitions are held there. It's so gorgeous, a modern building, it is a miracle. And if this is combined with Azerbaijani tea and with quince jam, this is real cultural tourism.”