Azerbaijan tourism receipts to be comparable with hydrocarbon revenues
In recent years, Azerbaijan has been actively developing the non-oil sector of the economy, and tourism has been chosen as one of the 12 promising areas. Baku expects Azerbaijan tourism receipts will be comparable with hydrocarbon revenues in the next 15 years.
According to the press secretary of Azerbaijan's National Bureau for Tourism Promotion Kenan Guluzade, Azerbaijan has already facilitated the visa regime with 93 countries by introducing ASAN Visa system, according to which, any tourist needs only three hours to get a visa to Azerbaijan. "After the devaluation of manat, tourism has become quite affordable for us. We open direct flights from different countries - Israel, Pakistan and China. Tourism has become an industry for us that brings actual foreign exchange earnings to the country, and we hope we will seriously address this issue in partnership with our Russian colleagues," Guluzade said.
A six-day festival of Novruz is being held in Azerbaijan. "Artisans gathered in the Fountain Square, there are concerts here, Karabakh horses, Azerbaijani cuisine, activities organizers. This year the main tourist flow to this festival will be from the CIS countries, as well as other neighboring countries, primarily from Iran. There are a lot of Russians coming here. This year we plan to organize a 'Summer in May' campaign for Russian tourists. We usually start the summer tourist season on June 15, and this year we plan to start it in May specifically for tourists from Russia and other CIS countries," Guluzade said.
According to him, the main tourist flow comes from Russia: "These are both tourists and Azerbaijanis who are citizens of Russia, but they visit their relatives and friends. The second place is taken by Georgia. Last year, Iran was third. In recent years, 20 per cent of tourists coming to Azerbaijan are tourists from Arab countries, from the Persian Gulf countries. "
Deputy head of the International Cooperation Department of the Federal Agency for Tourism, Vladimir Fomin, called Azerbaijan one of the most attractive tourist destinations for Russians: "We are united by a rather long-standing joint historical past, we have a lot of mutual interests in culture due to the fact that a very large percentage of the Russian population is close to the people of Azerbaijan in both cultural and religious sense. In addition, Azerbaijan is the Caspian Sea, nature, achievements in urban development and culture, etc. In the first nine months of 2017, the number of trips by Russian tourists is approaching 600,000. And it is not the limit. I hope that this number will approach the one million mark in the coming years."