Whole World. One Exhibition.
12 April at Baku Expo Center the 11th Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, AITF 2012, opened. The largest tourist forum in both the country and the entire Caspian region once again brings together tourism professionals from national tourism organizations, travel agencies, airlines, hotels and resorts.
With the slogan “The Whole World, One Exhibition”, AITF 2012 has brought together a record number of participants. There are 201 companies and organizations from 32 countries, presenting 62 tourism destinations. Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Cyprus, Malaysia, the UAE, Russia, Turkey and the Czech Republic are among the permanent participants in AITF. Companies from Qatar, Poland, Vietnam, Lithuania, Slovakia and Croatia are all making their debut at this year’s show. In total, this year's exhibition includes 15 national and regional stands from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Dagestan, India, Cyprus, Crimea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Slovenia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, the Emirate of Dubai, the Stavropol region and Croatia.
The official opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Mr Abulfas Garayev; the Advisor to the Turkish Ambassador in Azerbaijan on Culture and Information, Mr Said Ahmad Arslan; the Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism of Bulgaria, Mr Ivo Marinov; a representative from the World Tourism Organization, Ms Alla Peresolova; and the director of Iteca Caspian, Mr Farid Mamedov. Opening the exhibition, Minister Garayev thanked the organizers of AITF 2012, and noted that the exhibition is considered by international organizations to be the most influential in providing impetus to the development of the tourism industry.
The representative from the World Tourism Organization, Ms Alla Peresolova, read a letter from the Secretary General of the WTO, Mr Taleb Rifai, who noted that AITF offers great opportunities for tourism development.
At the opening ceremony, Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Mr Ivo Marinov highlighted that it was the first time that Bulgaria had taken part in AITF to promote its tourism potential.
The Advisor to the Turkish Ambassador in Azerbaijan on Culture and Information, Mr Sait Ahmed Arslan, noted that AITF is an important event for increasing the awareness of the global community about the country’s development.
Director of Iteca Caspian Mr Farid Mamedov welcomed all participants on behalf of the organizers, and thanked the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, as well as other the agencies, partners and sponsors who had provided support for the exhibition.
The unconditional prestige of the exhibition and the considerable attention paid to Azerbaijan’s booming tourism industry is underlined by the participation of the World Tourism Organization with its own stand.
This is the third consecutive year in which Turkey has been the partner country of the exhibition. For the firs time, AITF has its own guest country, namely, Bulgaria.
Over the next three days, travel industry professionals will get a unique chance to meet the major companies in the global travel industry, to experience the flavour of each and every country represented at the national stands and to expand their portfolio of tourist destinations.
The exhibition is very attractive with the offers of various recreation and travel opportunities. Medical tourism is widely represented by resorts in Bulgaria, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Azerbaijani tourists are well familiar with the resort cities of Essentuki, Zheleznovodsk, Kislovodsk, Mineral Waters, Pyatigorsk and Truskavets, which are all represented at AITF 2012. They will be complemented by Crimean resorts and a number of medical and health organizations, including the National Spa Association of Lithuania and Slovenia's regional administration, the Land of Celje, which includes six luxury thermal spa resorts.
As is tradition, the exhibition includes a stand organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Republic, and the upcoming 2012 Eurovision Song Contest provides the main theme for the display. Presentations of new projects and developments in the field of leisure and adventure in Azerbaijan will be made by the nation’s leading travel agencies, recreation centres and health resorts, as well as by major hospitality chains operating in Baku, including Fairmont, Hilton Baku, Four Seasons and Park Inn.
Those who admire exotic destinations will be offered interesting, and sometimes bizarre suggestions for holidays in Thailand, Mauritius and the Seychelles.
The biggest stand at the exhibition will once again be claimed by Turkey, which maintains its leading position among the tourists visiting Azerbaijan. Resorts on the famous Turkish Riviera, and well-known hotels and tour companies from different regions of the country will offer visitors trips to both popular and hitherto unexplored corners of Turkey.
A large delegation has arrived at AITF from Croatia. This is certainly in part due to the abolition of visa requirements for citizens of Azerbaijan travelling to Croatia till the end of October 2012. On the Croatian stand, tours will be offered, with accommodation at the best hotels on the Adriatic coast; visitors will be introduced to the sights of the country and will be invited to attend the numerous cultural events held annually in the capital city and the provinces.
Every year, AITF attracts more tourism professionals from around the world. This year’s business programme is full of thematic presentations and seminars. One of the most interesting events on the first day of the exhibition promises to be a seminar on the “Tourism opportunities in the countries of the Visegrad Group”. This will be attended by representatives of the national tourism agencies of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and the managers of major host companies, hotel chains, resorts and airlines in these countries.
A presentation of the hotels and resorts covered by the scheduled flights of Qatar Airways will take place in the first two days of the exhibition; the National Tourism Authority of Thailand will be holding a presentation on its exotic resorts; Croatian companies and tourism organizations will be holding a series of workshops; and the Azerbaijani travel agency, SW Travel, will launch a new online booking system.