Azerbaijan tourism spending soared 71% last year and the local government continues to prioritize this industry to reduce its dependence on oil. The country takes proactive steps into simplifying visa procedures for several countries to attract more tourists. The ASAN Visa portal started operating online early in January 2017, allowing easy electronic visa applications for citizens of the following countries: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa-Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, U.S., Vatican, and Vietnam.
Azerbaijan’s liberalization of its visa regime has led to an improvement in the nation’s openness (77th). For travelers, “Azerbaijan has become a cheaper destination thanks to a lowering of hotel prices (31st), and exchange rate fluctuations,” the report noted. Furthermore, “Azerbaijan’s relatively safe environment (35th), flexible labor market (20th) and positive health conditions (37th) contribute to its growing attractiveness as a tourist destination.” However, Azerbaijan still needs to improve air connectivity, as well as entertainment and leisure attractions.
The number of tourists has already increased 25% during the first quarter of 2017, a progress that has a lot to do with prioritizing developing tourism.
“This is related to the existing stability, newly-created infrastructure, 6 airports, beautiful roads, construction of hotels in Azerbaijan,” president Ilham Aliyev said in a press statement. “Transport sector also increased. Last month, the first train was departed from Azerbaijan to Iran via the newly-constructed bridge on Araz River. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is also planned to be launched this year,” he also noted. The president is confident that 2017 will be a successful year for Azerbaijan.
AzerNews predicted accurately early in the second half of 2016 that the country will see a tourist boom, observing several large-scale projects for the development of the tourism sector. More than 300 companies today operate in travel and tourism, with more expected to open in the near future.
Recently, two major travel and tourism fairs were held in Baku: the 16th Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair AITF 2017 and HOREX Caucasus-2017 International Hospitality Exhibition. Representatives of the tourism world, government institutions, national and regional tourism organizations from some 22 countries met to discuss future opportunities and to introduce to the public domestic and international travel destinations.