TODAY.AZ / Business

Land of Fire sees over 20pct growth in number of tourists

15 November 2017 [11:33] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Aygul Salmanova

Azerbaijan has left behind ten successful months of tourism, which turned into a great couple of months thanks to nice weather and popular attractions.

Hosting a record-breaking for the country 1.7 million tourists in the first nine months of 2016, Azerbaijan has raised the bar in this sphere. The number of tourists visiting the Land of Fire increased by 20 percent this year compared to last year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. 

In the ten months of 2017, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by 20.1 percent, amounting to 2.27 million people, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said on November 13.July has witnessed the highest number of tourists (313,515).

This year, the countries that showed the largest growth compared to the same period last year were Iran, the UAE and Russia. 

Russian tourists hold the first position among tourists visiting Azerbaijan reaching 727,577, followed by travelers from Georgia with 439,305 tourists, according to the official statistics.

Iran is in the third place with 320,904 visitors followed by 249,210 Turkish tourists.

Some 115,782 more people from Iran has visited Azerbaijan this year. There are several factors contributing to this development. First of all, starting from January 10, 2017, Iranian citizens are able to apply for Azerbaijan visa via the ASAN Visa system, as a result of which, they will be able to obtain visas within three days.

Azerbaijani and Iranian peoples enjoy the same cultural and religious traditions, and, most importantly, the geographical proximity play significant role in relations of the two nations. Azerbaijan, known for its centuries-old history and outspoken hospitality, traditionally welcomes many Iranians during the Novruz holiday. 

The number of Arab tourists has also significantly increased compared to the last year: some 42,811 more Arab tourists visited the country in 2017.

The fifth place is taken by the UAE (81,742), the sixth by Iraq (54 242), the seventh - Ukraine (49 809) and the eighth - Saudi Arabia (31 821). 

One of the main reasons for the rising number of Arab tourists is the introduction of a simplified visa regime from this year for citizens of Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries. In addition, the cause of massive growth of Arab tourists is due to the country's security and safety, as well as in multicultural values.

The remaining 321,994 people are citizens of other countries.

The government of Azerbaijan has made developing tourism a priority, while a number of tourist facilities have been built in the regions, and cultural and historical reserves have been set up or restored.

Thanks to all these, the country has improved its tourism performance in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 released by experts of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The country is placed 71st among the most improved economies in 2017, rising 13 spots in the global ranking.

“While Azerbaijan’s international arrivals dropped in 2015 as a result of an economic slowdown in the region, the growth of international arrivals since 2010, and the country’s investment in the sector, are consistent with the improvement in the rankings—and will certainly benefit the travel and tourism sector going forward,” said the report.

The liberalization of the visa regime has led to an improvement in Azerbaijan’s openness (77th). Moreover, the country has made efforts to enhance its natural and cultural resources by increasing the total size of protected areas (83rd) and actively promoting its oral and intangible cultural expressions (14th), according to WEF experts.


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