Visitor numbers to Azerbaijan top 2.2 million
The Hilton Baku hosted the meeting of the Ministry of Justice and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, where the results of the Year of Tourism were examined. The level of international familiarity with Azerbaijan’s tourism potential was among the topics discussed at the meeting, along with the development of different types of tourism, the passing of legislation, and the growth of small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector. Addressing the meeting, Abulfas Garaev, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, highlighted the work done in developing tourism in accordance with the Government Programme for Developing Tourism in Azerbaijan from 2010 to 2014. The Minister attributed the progress made in this area to the creation of favourable conditions for tourism by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev – indeed, the Year of Tourism programme, created by Presidential decree, along with the clear Governmental interest in the area, has led to a new stage in tourism development. Over the last year, new hotels, resorts, and tourist facilities have opened, and this progress is set to continue in 2012.
As Mr Garaev noted, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan rose by 14% last year, and it is expected that this year will be even more successful, in part owing to the fact that the country will be hosting the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The head of the Ministry’s tourism department, Aydin Ismiev, gave a detailed speech to the meeting in which he noted that the main reasons for the positive trends in the industry were the recent reforms in the sector, international events in the country, and high-quality advertising campaigns promoting Azerbaijan as a tourism destination at international events and exhibitions. Mr Ismiev told the audience that 2.239 million people visited Azerbaijan last year, 1.8 million of these being tourists, who each spent an average of 618 manats in the country – figures that helped total tourism revenue to increase by 26% from the previous year to a figure of 966.3 million manats.
There were 515 hotels in Azerbaijan in 2011, up from 499 in 2010, offering a total of 33,393 beds, an increase of 11.8% on the previous year’s figures. Last year, 30 hotels opened to visitors, and a further 45 are currently under construction. Mr Ismiev also revealed that 39 tourism companies received their licence in 2011 to give a total of 178 tourism companies operating in Azerbaijan.
The Chairman of the Azerbaijan Tourism Association Nahid Bagirov and the Deputy Minister for Culture and Tourism Nazim Samedov also addressed the meeting, talking about the recent successes of Azerbaijan’s tourism industry.
The audience appreciated the speeches highly, and wished the professionals of the tourism industry future success.