AITF 2014: best meeting place for tourism industry professionals!
Today is the final day of the 13th Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair (AITF 2014), which is organized by Iteca Caspian and its partner, ITE Group plc. The largest trade fair of the tourism industry in the whole of the Caucasus was a bright beginning to the spring exhibition season and commemorated by a visit from President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
This year the exhibition has demonstrated a record in terms of the composition of the exhibitors: 350 companies from 38 countries worldwide have presented all types of “travel dreams” for visitors, together forming a versatile route to anywhere in the world. The large group of VIP guests, the abundance of national stands and the growing number of exhibitors demonstrates the increased attention paid to Azerbaijan by the leading tour operators from around the world.
At the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Minister for Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev, UNWTO Secretary General Mr Taleb Rifai and Executive Director of ITE Group (UK) Mr Edward Strachan all emphasized the high status of the exhibition. During its thirteen-year history AITF has been the main event in the tourism industry of the Caspian region, where important meetings are held and partnership agreements are concluded, as well as where new programmes and projects are announced or started.
As was planned by the organizers, the first two days of the exhibition were aimed at meetings between tourism industry colleagues and experts, with professional dialogues contributing, as much as practical, to the realization of new business relationships, and strengthening the reputations and promotion of brands.
Today at Baku Expo Centre is a special day! Open to the public, today thousands of people are seeking to secure the best holiday deal, whether this means selecting an interesting new tourist destination or a comfortable resort.
Moreover, the chance to choose the best of the best will remain for the rest of AITF 2014, with presentations of over 80 tourist routes, of the activities of numerous travel agencies, of organizations in the hotel business and of service centres, as well as the new area of medical tourism. As is tradition, representatives have greeted visitors at the national stands of Turkey, Egypt, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Slovenia, Thailand and India.
At the same time, the exhibition attracts the unveiling of new routes, presented by tourism companies from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, China, Croatia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Germany and the Republic of South Africa.
The wide-ranging participation of the regions of Azerbaijan in the national stand is one of the most interesting and colourful sections of the current exhibition. AITF 2014 successfully reflects the development of tourism in the whole of Azerbaijan, and it is no coincidence that today more than twenty regions are represented, with attractive and lucrative offers, demonstrating the potential of hotels, recreation centres, vacation hotels and spas. The particular attention of visitors to the exhibition is drawn to the medicinal qualities of Naphthalan oil, rural tourism opportunities, and the role and importance of ecology in the travel industry.
It is also interesting to hear the opinions of the first visitors to arrive at Baku Expo Centre. One couple, the Rehimovs, came here hoping to find a hotel for the approaching summer holiday and admit that the exhibition has taught them a lot. They have learned more about the tourism industry, been given a lot of useful information and have spoken with experts, and, as a result, they have dramatically increased their interest in the countries that are participating in AITF 2014.
The development concept called “Azerbaijan 2020: a look into the future” reflects the goals and objectives for the development of tourism in the country. We expect that by 2020 Azerbaijan will be visited by five million tourists annually. Over the last ten years revenues from tourism in Azerbaijan have increased fifty-six-fold, while the global average amounted to 10%-12%. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan plans to increase the number of tourists visiting the country by 30%-40% in the next three to five years.
This promising potential is today convincingly and at the highest organizational level demonstrated by the success of the Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, at which all major market participants - tour operators, national groups, transportation companies, hotel businesses, trade associations, and organizers of adventurous and extreme tour packages – are represented. This is the most popular meeting place for tourism industry professionals.