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Azerbaijan advised to attract Indians, Chinese to develop mass tourism.

By Rashid Shirinov

During the recent years, Azerbaijan has become a destination that millions of tourists worldwide have chosen for their travel, and their number continues to grow with every passing year. However, the country does not stand still in this field relevant state agencies are trying to find new ways of attracting even more tourists to Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan needs to attract Chinese and Indian tourists to develop mass tourism, Adviser of the chairman of Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AzTA) Muzaffar Agakarimov told Trend on April 20. Reminding that most of the world's population lives in these countries, he noted that if Chinese and Indian tourists come to Azerbaijan, the country will earn a huge income.

First of all, he offers to open direct flights at relatively low prices, as well as to organize info tours to Azerbaijan for the leading travel companies of these two countries.

"By attracting Chinese and Indian tourists it is possible to develop the tourism sector of Azerbaijan to such an extent that the country will be able to welcome more than 10 million tourists a year," Agakarimov said.

The adviser added that it is necessary to approach the development of mass tourism in Azerbaijan in a comprehensive way and to increase the number of hotels.

"There are 150-200 hotels on Absheron, but there are not enough rooms in them. Therefore, it is necessary to build new hotels. Moreover, it is necessary to build a five-star hotel in Gusar, which has been enjoying great interest among tourists in recent years," Agakerimov noted.

Statistics show that 4,853 Indian tourists came to Azerbaijan in 2014, but last year their number amounted to 14,173. The number of Chinese tourists has also increased during the four years. In 2014, as many as 5,930 Chinese tourists visited Azerbaijan, but in 2017 the figure increased to 10,258.

Developing health tourism

By the way, the National Bureau for Tourism Promotion intends to attract more Chinese tourists to Azerbaijan. Spokesman of the Bureau Kanan Guluzade told Trend that an agreement between Azerbaijani and Chinese tourism companies was signed on April 19 with the support of the Bureau. Within the agreement, 2,000 Chinese tourists will visit Azerbaijan.

"The agreement was signed between a private Azerbaijani travel company and two Chinese travel companies. These Chinese companies specialize in health tourism," Guluzade said.

The two companies conducted a market research in Azerbaijan and determined that Naftalan is the most priority direction for Chinese tourists. It is expected that during the year, with the help of partner airlines operating in China and the Asian market, 2,000 Chinese tourists will be sent to Azerbaijan. They will stay three days in Baku and seven days in Naftalan.

"We are confident that the potential of Naftalan will be able to meet the needs of Chinese tourists," Guluzade noted.

Located some 360 km west of Baku, Naftalan city is famous around the world for its crude oil, renowned for its curative properties for a human health. This center of medical tourism in Azerbaijan has unique natural treatments that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Naftalan oil is used for therapeutic baths to treat over 70 illnesses.

Guluzade added that the Bureau intends to continue working in this direction and holds consultations with Chinese companies to this end.

"These are just the first steps. We plan to attract more Chinese tourists, and not only to health resorts such as Naftalan or Duzdag. Previously, Chinese tourists came to Azerbaijan only as part of general tours to the South Caucasus. The new agreement provides for a visit directly to Azerbaijan," the Bureau spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan intends to further improve its field of health tourism. Ruslan Guliyev, Chairman of the Azerbaijan Health and Thermal Tourism Support Association and the President of the Global Healthcare Travel Council, said at a press conference in Baku on April 20 that the "Action plan for the development of health tourism" designed for 2018-2020 will be presented in the country in the near future.

In particular, the action plan will touch upon the issues of branding and obtaining international certificates.

Guliyev also reminded that it is also planned to launch the State Register of Tourism in Azerbaijan this year. He further noted that Azerbaijan's taking over the presidency in the Global Healthcare Travel Council will contribute to an even greater development of tourism in the country.

The health tourism in Azerbaijan has been noticeably improved after the adoption of the state program on development of resorts in 2009-2018. The Association to support the health and thermal tourism in Azerbaijan was established in order to boost the health tourism, and modern medical and health centers were opened in Baku, Naftalan, Nakhchivan, Galaalti, Gabala, Lankaran and other regions of the country. It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan was named among Top five countries in the category of "Wellness Holiday," according to the results of the Internet voting of National Geographic Traveler Awards 2017.

Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews' staff journalist, follow him on Twitter:@RashidShirinov
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Publication:Azer News (Baku, Azerbaijan)
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Apr 24, 2018
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