The year started on a strong note for the representative office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan in GCC as the number of tourists from the GCC countries to Azerbaijan grew.
According to the latest Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Barometer, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased 30 folds between January and June.
The chairman of the representative office Mr. Rashid AL Noori said that the results were due to the strategic decision by Azerbaijani Leader President Ilham Aliyev to waiver the Visa requirement for travelers from the GCC, together with the Vision of Mr. Abulfas Garayev the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan to open Azerbaijan’s First Overseas Representative Office- Atlantis Holidays in late 2011.
“When that decision was made, I always knew that Azerbaijan will become a much acclaimed tourism destination for the Arabs. We were tasked with the mission to promote and place Azerbaijan as a beautiful destination for Arab nationals, Residents and Travel industry professionals. We took the task with pleasure and with the support from the leadership of Azerbaijan, the vision has been achieved.”
By highlighting Azerbaijan’s excellent climate and weather, Culture, Cuisine, nature, attractions and diversity, Atlantis Holidays has managed to fast pave way for Arab tourists to Visit Azerbaijan and Results were robust with a double-digit growth across almost all of Azerbaijan’s regions including Baku, Gabala, Guba Naftalan, Shahdag and Ismayilli.
“Prospects for August to December remain positive, with around 30, 000 Arab tourists from GCC expected to travel to Azerbaijan in the summer/ Eid Al Adha holiday peak season,” said Rashid AL Noori
Azerbaijan has become a favorite destination for tourists from the Arab Countries with the Ministry of Tourism informing that about 10,086 people visited Azerbaijan from the UAE and 6,624 persons from the rest of GCC in March and April alone.
“Spend per tourist is still the same as previously estimated by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). With the average being $ 700 per tourist. As you can see, this makes for an increase of 4.6 per cent between January and June, a figure 30-times higher than the indicator for the same period of last year,” continued Mr. AL Noori.
The ministry reports that these figures come as a result of the active promotion of country’s tourism potential in accordance with Ministry’s marketing strategy, as well as the activities of Ministry’s representative offices in the UAE (Atlantis Holidays) since 2011. Simplification of the visa regime for citizens of Arab countries from November 2015 was also noted as a boost for the growth.
“These results show that Azerbaijan is a priority destination for tourists from the UAE and other Gulf States. It portrays a strong desire of Arabs to travel to Azerbaijan and this continues to drive tourism growth. Azerbaijan keeps improving and developing new tourist sites and accessible infrastructure. Our strategic plans as the government is to implement new facilities such as the already introduced Tax free shopping, to help tourists to have simplified travel experience,” said Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Results by region
By region, Baku recorded the highest increase in tourist’s arrivals, with the number of visitors from Gulf countries increasing by 16.1%. The number grew 30 times in May and the Ministry forecasts that the number will increase by 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent over the full year 2016, in line with the Ministry’s long-term projection of 4.0 per cent growth a year for the period 2010 to 2020.
The second most visited regions in Azerbaijan are Gabala and Naftalan, followed by Shahdag, Guba Ismayilli, Gakh and Zagatala respectively.
With the representative office in Dubai spearheading Azerbaijan promotions throughout the GCC, Azerbaijan’s proximity to the GCC, increased flights to Baku with Fly Dubai, Azerbaijan Airlines plus the daily Qatar Airways flights from Doha to Baku, and five-star accommodation options, Azerbaijan looks forward to an increase in Arab travelers, expat, couples, family holidays as well as the MICE, Medical and soft adventure sectors.
“Most of all Arabs like to go to Azerbaijan because of the stability in the region, the country’s delicious cuisine with halal food, hospitality and common cultural and religious orientations. They are also looking to Azerbaijan as an attractive destination for relatively new pleasures such as fishing and hunting, the new most loved entertainment form for many Arabs. We therefore expect the number of tourists from GCC to grow further by the end of 2016,” concluded Mr. Rashid.
According to the Ministry’s Tourism Confidence Index, prospects for August to December remain positive and in line with the performance of January to June. The Ministry estimates that some 30,000 tourists will travel to Azerbaijan between August and December 2016, for the Eid Al Adha peak season and winter which will start Mid-November to Mid-March 2017. The Index shows confidence is highest in Baku followed by Gabala, Shahdag, Naftalan then Guba.
On a more positive side, Azerbaijan is looking forward to the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in September 2016.