Post-pandemic period to open new opportunities for domestic tourism
Economy28 April 2020, 15:28 275
According to experts, new tourist routes to the regions should be organized
One of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic is tourism. Currently, due to the closure of borders, the activities of the tourism sector in all countries of the world have completely stopped. Countries are taking various steps to revive tourism. These steps are also taken in Azerbaijan. The State Tourism Agency and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board have developed a special program - Sanitation and Hygiene Methods and Norms Program (SAHMAN - Sanitation and Hygiene Methods and Norms) to increase the competitiveness in the tourism industry and ensure effective compliance with sanitary and hygiene guidelines. The main goal of the SAHMAN program is to promote Azerbaijan as a safe tourist destination and increase its tourism competitiveness in the country and the international community.
Chairman of the State Tourism Agency Fuad Nagiyev noted that the program was developed to increase the competitiveness of post-pandemic tourism in Azerbaijan. He noted that the project was developed in coordination with other government agencies and is supported by the World Tourism Organization.
The program is be based on public-private partnerships and will be guided by important principles such as security, transparency, social responsibility, justice, inclusion, cooperation, and advocacy. At the initial stage, the program is planned to be applied in hotels and hotel-type enterprises, catering facilities (cafes and restaurants), and in vehicles serving tourists. The State Tourism Agency will provide support to industry representatives participating in the SAHMAN program in the areas of training, the supply of necessary equipment, marketing and branding, and will partially meet the costs of additional sanitation and hygiene measures required under the program.
Moreover, pro-tourism associations and public associations operating in Azerbaijan held a video conference organized by the Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AzTA) in support of President Ilham Aliyev's call "We are strong together" during this difficult pandemic period. During the meeting, the representatives of the association spoke about the current state of tourism in Azerbaijan during the pandemic period, as well as the factors that accelerate the development of domestic tourism in the post-quarantine and post-pandemic periods. Representatives of the private sector informed about the current problems and situation of the tourism enterprises they represent and voiced suggestions for ways out of the situation. It was decided that with the efforts of all tourism agencies, a clear mechanism for the activities and development prospects of domestic tourism will be developed in the coming days and presented to the relevant agencies and the public. Thus, a Memorandum of Associative Partnership was adopted between the participating agencies. The main purpose of the memorandum is to unite all efforts from a single platform, to develop mutually beneficial and effective cooperation between tourism organizations, to increase the activity of civil society representatives in tourism development, to create a "brain center" of specialists representing each organization, to jointly develop necessary projects, and promote the country's tourism potential.
We talked to experts on what steps will be taken to develop domestic tourism in the post-pandemic period and how effective it will be.
Ahmad Gurbanov, chairman of the board of the Azerbaijan Tourism Association, said the association was developing a concept for the development of domestic tourism. "Currently, all sectors in the world and our country have suffered from the current situation. In particular, the biggest damage was inflicted on tourism. Due to closed borders, there is a serious decline in international tourism, as well as in domestic tourism due to the quarantine period. Tourism companies, tourist facilities have reached a standstill. Since the borders will not open yet in the post-quarantine period, we plan to revive and develop domestic tourism first. As the Azerbaijan Tourism Association, we are developing a concept for the development of domestic tourism. The purpose of the concept is purely aimed at the development of domestic tourism and will be a "road map" for tourism companies. There are travel agencies in our country that work only with inbound and outbound tourism. As this type of tourism is not currently active, these companies can also benefit from this concept,” Gurbanov said.
The chairman noted that new tourist routes to the regions were being prepared. "Our regions have high potential. Citizens, who cannot travel abroad due to closed borders, will be able to benefit from domestic tourism after quarantine. For this, we think that it is necessary to increase the number of hotels and other tourist facilities in the regions. Negotiations are underway with tourism companies, and new tourism routes are planned for the next stage,” he noted.
When asked whether there would be price gouging in domestic tourism because of the current situation, Gurbanov noted that the prices are not expected to change. "In my opinion, there will be no increase or decrease in prices, they will remain stable. Prices will remain stable at the initial stage, but for the next stage, there may be changes in prices in line with market supply and demand. It is impossible to control prices in this direction, as those in the tourism sector are engaged in private entrepreneurship. During meetings, we simply advise these entrepreneurs not to allow a serious price increase, and to prepare appropriate proposals for everyone,” he added.
Elchin Rustamov, head of the New Era tourism company, said that work could be done in this area based on international experience. "The tendency is the same in all countries. At a time when there is no international travel, all countries have focused on developing domestic tourism. We are also doing some work based on international experience. Especially for the period after Ramadan, new tourist routes are being organized in the direction of Guba, Khachmaz, Sheki, Gabala, which people visit the most. It is expected that most of the flow will be to summer resorts, as summer is nearing, which, of course, will create very favorable conditions for expanding the income of tourism facilities located in these areas. People can use all tourism services by following the established hygienic guidelines,” he said.