Recently, the non-oil sector, especially tourism, has a great role in the economic development of Azerbaijan. Tourism is one of the dynamically developing areas in many countries around the world. In parallel, this development also affects other economic sectors. The infrastructure created both in the capital and in the tourism regions of the country, is the reason why more and more tourists visit Azerbaijan annually. On the other hand, holding several international political, economic, cultural and humanitarian events throughout the year also raises the interest of tourists to our country. President Ilham Aliyev, who highly appreciates the development of tourism in our country, noted that all these factors condition rapid development of tourism in Azerbaijan. "There are excellent results in the field of tourism,” President Ilham Aliyev said in his closing speech at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of the socioeconomic development of the country in 2018 and objectives for the future. "As I said, there were 6% increase and 2 million 850 thousand foreign visitors came to our country last year. Tourism industry must be established in our country," Ilham Aliyev said.
"Safety, hospitality, historical monuments, beautiful climate, 9 climate types, sea tourism, mountain-skiing tourism, and medical tourism can develop very rapidly in our country. Excellent cuisine, modern infrastructure, hotels, roads, transport infrastructure, 6 international airports – all these factors must ensure rapid development of tourism. Structural reforms have been made in this area, Tourism Agency has been created. I was recently informed about the work done. I gave my recommendations regarding the work to be done about the ways of creating a tourism industry in general. Various individual projects are to be implemented and are being implemented currently,” said the head of state.
We wonder experts’ opinions about today's development and future potential of tourism? What can be done to further develop this area?
Executive Director of the Azerbaijan Tourism Association Ahmad Gurbanov said that currently Azerbaijani tourism is at the stage of development. "Orders on the development of Azerbaijani tourism by President Ilham Aliyev have played a major role. They accelerated the development of tourism, and as a result tourism infrastructure was created. This, in turn, gave rise to the construction of new hotels. It should be noted that the current development of tourism can be accelerated. New tourism types should be developed for this purpose. The role of railway tourism in domestic tourism is much higher. Opening of Baku-Gabala, Baku-Gusar railway line may further stimulate the development of domestic tourism. In Azerbaijan, it is necessary to focus attention on the human factor and staff problems for the high level of tourism development. As in other areas, staff plays a role of engine in the field of tourism. First of all, it is desirable to pay attention to educated staff. A team of specialists should be created. As a result of their efforts, the roadmaps for the development of tourism in the near and distant future can be prepared. After choosing the types of tourism, it can be determined which kind of tourism to develop in certain regions of Azerbaijan. For example, mountain tourism can be further developed in Qusar and Gabala. Infrastructure of beach tourism can be created in Lankaran and Khachmaz. Tourism is the leading area of the non-oil sector. This means establishing of new jobs and new facilities. Thus, the graduates of the Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University, Western University, Baku State University and vocational schools can be provided with jobs,” said Gurbanov.
According to tourism expert Muzaffar Agakarimov, the quality of services will increase in 2019. "More than 2 million tourists came to our country in 2018. This is a very high figure compared to 2017. At the same time, new types of tourism were created. I think both train and sea tourism will be developed in Azerbaijan in the future. Moreover, types of tourism that are currently used will be raised to a higher level. I would like to note that the experience of those working in tourism industry is increasing year by year. Hotels and companies operating in this area use the world experience. In my opinion, the number of tourism specialists will increase in the next year. At the same time, health tourism that is developing in our country, will play a major role in the attracting of more tourists this year. Tourists from Russia and Kazakhstan pay a great attention to this type of tourism. We hope that tourism companies will increase the quality of their services this year, because their role in the development of this field is great. For example, it is desirable to create new tourist routes. I would recommend tourism companies to conduct a survey among tourists and offer services based on the results of this survey. Also in recent years, gastronomic tourism is one of the attractive tourist destinations. Azerbaijani cuisine has become popular all over the world. Therefore, development of this sphere of tourism should be in the foreground,” the expert noted.
Elchin Rustamov, head of the New ERA Travel Agency, said tourism could become one of the most profitable areas for our country one day as the state pays special importance to the development of the non-oil sector. "For this purpose, certain work should be done and concessions should be made for tourists. In fact, there is no need to make too much investments in tourism. Because the largest capital is the country itself. That is, the country's climate, nature, its geographical location are the greatest advantages in terms of attracting tourists. However, the second condition for attracting of tourists is affordable prices of tickets and hotels. Tourism is an area which can be greatly improved with the state's support. Such concessions are crucial for the development of tourism. When traveling, tourists prefer the countries that offer the most advantageous concessions,” Rustamov added.