Ilham Madatov: "With such nature Azerbaijan can attract a lot of tourists"
Today, the Azerbaijan University of Tourism and Management in Baku hosted a conference dedicated to the competition to select a winning article on the topic "Sustainable tourism products of Azerbaijan." The rector of the University Ilham Madatov, speaking on the sidelines of this event with Vestnik Kavkaza, told about the competition and the development of tourism in the republic as a whole.
- Ilham muallim, what was the purpose of this contest, what tasks do you set by carrying out such events?
- Today's conference is titled 'Sustainable Tourism Products', we are holding a the competition to select best articles and award their authors with special prizes. In 2016, the UN General Assembly decided to declare 2017 a year of sustainable tourism for the sake of international development, it was officially declared in Madrid, where the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization are located. Since Azerbaijan was elected chairman of the WTO's executive council, participation in the complex of events, which is held around the world this and the next year, is of great importance for our republic.
Our competition is part of these events. We consider it our duty to work not only with employees of the tourism industry, but also with scientists and students, as we will build the tourism potential of Azerbaijan with efforts of these young people. A lot of very interesting articles were presented for the contest, covering many areas and aspects of tourism development in Azerbaijan, starting from winter tourism to rural tourism, ecotourism and recreational tourism.
There were very good ideas that our tourism Internet resources are poorly developed with regard to the presentation of all these products, its coverage and bringing to the attention of our potential guests. In general, the work in the framework of the competition was carried out at a good level, I think that after serious discussions we will publish a special book on the results. I have already asked our scientists to once again return during the meetings to the issue of preparing an article with concrete proposals, from which each representative of the tourism industry could yield concrete benefits. This was the purpose of this conference - to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in Azerbaijan, because as a scientific and educational institution we consider it our duty to convey scientifically based articles to the tourism business.
- What were the ideas of the contest participants regarding the development of tourism in Azerbaijan?
- For example, it was noted that one should not expect the influx of tourists by advertising only historical monuments. The statistics were provided that the attendance of historical objects in the world as a whole is much lower than the attendance of recreational objects, which is not so easy to determine. And this means that it is not enough to say that we have many historical monuments, let people come to see them: tourists go to many countries for recreational purposes. Therefore, Azerbaijan needs to focus on those areas where we have very good opportunities, including in recreation. We have very good mineral waters, we have mountain air, we have Naftalan, which we can put to the world level and ensure that people from all over the world visit it, as they visit Yessentuki, for example. Naftalan is a unique resort with medical oil, and good advertising, an demonstration of its advantages, capabilities and the best routes to the resort can help to achieve it.
- How much has the level of tourism in Azerbaijan improved in recent years?
- In recent years, there have been a lot of investments in the development of recreational tourism. What do one needs to come down for the holidays? First of all, a good hotel - there are all kinds of hotels in Naftalan from three to five stars, we just need to show people these opportunities. Also a convenient road to the resort is needed, and in this case there is an international airport in Ganja, 50 km from Naftalan, which is a direct connection with Moscow and Istanbul. That is, a person from Moscow can get to Naftalan within a few hours - and sometimes people make flights across the ocean to get somewhere and spend a few days there, but this trip wouldn't take long. All this should be properly presented to customers, first in the near abroad, then in the far abroad, and finally all over the world. If people feel they can get what they need, interest in our resorts will only increase in the future. Having such natural opportunities, we can attract a lot of tourists here.
- Indeed, there is a tourist boom in the country, especially from Islamic countries, which increases the demand for your graduates, because your university is a talent pool for Azerbaijan's tourism industry. In your estimation, how much is the university ready to meet the demands of today?
- As you have rightly said, we have recently noted the growth of the tourist flow to the republic, not only from Arab countries, but also from the former Soviet republics and Iran. It should be noted that countries that are not able to take a large number of tourists, send them to other regions. Since Azerbaijan meets many requirements of Arab countries: same religion, excellent climate, suitable cuisine, good hotels, roads and airports - it has attracted increasing attention on the part of their citizens. Of course, we understand this challenge and work to meet the demand for qualified personnel. We are intensifying our work in the direction that all our students and specialists speak different languages. At present, we conduct training in three languages - in Azerbaijani, Russian and English. Another direction is the organization of special courses after classes, where students study other languages. We also use our contacts with various universities in Turkey, Israel, Germany, Austria and other countries, where our students undergo practical training of 14 or 22 weeks. At this time, students continue to learn foreign languages, of course, of the country where they undergo practical training, and continue to learn English. Also, we often organize excursions and hikes in tourist places, so that they have direct communication with the likely places of work before they finish their studies, so that they can study the history and geography of Azerbaijan in advance. That is, we prepare ourselves and prepare our students for the challenges of the future tourism development in the country.