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Naftalan oil as a vast touristic potential

Naftalan oil as a vast touristic potential
Experts say publicity and promotion work should be expanded to promote Azerbaijan’s potential in medical tourism

In the near future, appeals will be made to relevant government agencies and the Ministry of Health to use Naftalan oil for the treatment of hemophilia patients, Gulnara Huseynova, head of  the Republican Association of Patients with Hemophilia , told Trend. She said that most patients with hemophilia suffer complications (arthritis, arthrosis) caused by hemorrhage in the joints. Therefore, bathing in Naftalan oil can be helpful in restoring the joints. G. Huseynova believes that this treatment under the supervision of physicians can have a positive effect on the patient’s health. "During the Soviet era, patients from all over the USSR came to Naftalan for the treatment of musculoskeletal, neurological, dermatological, gynecological and urological disorders. At that time, the number of patients using Naftalan baths was around 70,000-90,000 people a year. An experimental laboratory study conducted on the biological effects of Naftalan oil scientifically proved its positive effect on the treatment of diseases,” she said.
As mentioned, Naftalan oil truly has great healing properties which dates back to ancient times.  But it is also undeniable that this oil plays a significant role in the development of our country’s tourism potential. Naftalan is one of many therapeutic tourist attractions that stimulates the development of medical tourism in Azerbaijan and promotes the country to world tourists. In addition, let us also consider that we have plenty natural resources to contribute to the development of medical tourism, such as the Salt Mountain in Nakhchivan, Istisu in Masalli, and Qalaalti in Shabran. But are we really benefiting from the potential of these natural resources in the development of  medical tourism? How do such places affect the development of tourism and what are their advantages?
According to tourism expert Muzaffar Aghakarimov, publicity and promotion work should be done to promote our potential and to expand the number of tourists coming to the country. "Naftalan oil has been well-known since the 19th century and since then been a wonderful tool for attracting foreigners to our country. Naftalan oil is a therapeutically significant substance that is incomparable to anything in the world. People from around the world come to Naftalan to find healing. Today, many tourists come from Kazakhstan, Russia, and former CIS countries purely for treatment in Naftalan. However, I think more promotion work is still needed to done to promote Naftalan. Publicity and promotion work should be done to promote our potential to the world and to expand the number of tourists. For example, if we carry out promotion in many countries in Europe, America, Asia, we can attract more people’s interest. It would be better for tourism companies and media agencies to also take an active part in doing do. I would even say that if our diasporas and cultural centers in foreign countries joined in on this promotion, we could achieve excellent results. This is our natural resource, so why not use it? In my opinion, we also fail to properly promote the Salt Mountain in Nakhchivan which also is a significant place in treating many diseases. Believe me, it is possible to build not one but several hotels around these medical facilities and attract many tourists,” the expert said.
Ahmad Gurbanov, AzTA's Executive Director said that tourists staying in the country for long-term treatment is economically feasible. "Tourism is developing rapidly. This, in turn, plays an important role in attracting more tourists to our country. Many types of tourism have developed in Azerbaijan. I would even say that you can find all types of tourism here. Among them, medical tourism is the most profitable in terms of attracting tourists. Medical tourism is very popular in our country due to the high number of health centers and natural resources here. Naftalan, truly is an incomparable health center in the region. Its rising health benefits are known worldwide. Among those coming for treatment, citizens of CIS countries are dominant. I would also like to note that medical tourism is very profitable. Because it is long-term which means those who come for treatment should stay at least 21 days. This creates a favorable economic environment. It creates a basis for the tourist to stay in the country for a long time and spend more money. In this sense, I would say that not only Naftalan, but also Qalaalti, Istisu and other health centers are very important in terms of attracting tourists to the country,” he noted.
Director of LunaTravel tourism, Rahman Guliyev said their company is working with foreign tourism companies to promote Azerbaijan’s potential in medical tourism in a wider scope. "The opening of thermal facilities in our country will stimulate the development of tourism. In fact, if we prioritized the creation of such health facilities, we could make even more progress. For example, Qalaalti's water is one of the world's best-known healing waters. The Naftalan sanatorium’s history goes back to ancient times. I would like to note that in most cases, doctors in Central Asia refer thier patients to the Naftalan sanatorium in Azerbaijan. There are also people coming from Europe, though they are not many. We have recently started to cooperate with some European travel companies. As a result of this cooperation, we are trying to promote the country’s potential in medical tourism in a wider scope,” the director noted.



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