Azerbaijan still behind turkey in tourism development

Vacation season began long ago and the following questions have arisen: where to go, what to see, and the main point - how to make the holiday pleasant, not too expensive and memorable?

Today, Turkish resorts are very popular and they are well-known all over the world: Alania, Kemer Marmaris, Bodrum, and Fethie. Their popularity is not occasional.

At present resorts in Turkey are regarded as most popular worldwide. These are Alania Kemer, Marmaris, Bodrum, Fehiye. Their popularity is not accidental.

Comparing, for instance, a ten-day holiday in the Azerbaijani settlement of Nabran Нor Novkhany with a holiday in Turkish resorts we come to the conclusion that a ticket for a group trip to Turkey will be much cheaper. So, the average cost of a trip to Turkey costs $800-$900 (for a week to ten days) including staying in a four- or five-star hotel with at least free breakfast. The cheapest tickets for a group trip cost some $500 (in a three-star hotel). However, if you succeed to buy a hot ticket, you will rest perfectly for only $600, while in the local resort complexes it will cost one person AZN 100 to 200 daily. Notably, the prices in local resorts do not correspond to the service. So, tourists choose European-grade service with an economical holiday when they go to Turkey

Tourism agencies offer guests spend their time usefully, such as by sightseeing. Sightseeing includes going deep into Turkish history, seeing necropolises, the ancient amphitheatre, statues of famous people, for instance Emperor Vespasian, and visit several archaeological museums. The tourists preferring active living are offered night-time entertainment, such as casinos, restaurants, bars, night clubs, and world-renowned discos.

Every year Azerbaijan loses many potential tourists due to the country's inability to popularize and improve its tourism opportunities.

Azerbaijan can offer very attractive holiday areas at more available prices.

Azerbaijan is one of ancient centers of civilization, the country with rich history. The cultural heritage established on its base over the many thousand years, entered the world treasury. For instance, Azerbaijan is memorable for Gobustan historical reserve, which testifies for existence of humanity even a thousand years ago. This region possesses huge potential for the development of tourism. The rock paintings speak about high level of civilization of ancient residents of the ' Land of Fire'. Sheki is impressive for magnificent Palace of Khans with unique mastership of builders and skilful decoration of walls. The Mausoleum of Momine Khatun in Nakhchivan is also very interesting.

Azerbaijan has many historical and cultural monuments, differing from each other. There is a unique opportunity for connecting the tourism, implying seeing of sightseeing with the medical treatment in solar and other fields, for instance, in Nakhchivan.

Lack of modern infrastructure, as well as sufficiently-developed entertainment infrastructures - hotels and equipped leisure zones - impede development of the country's tourism business, according to Azerbaijani tourism operators

Hotels in Azerbaijan are knocked down and expensive buildings are constructed instead.

Today, there are over 250 hotels and pensions in Azerbaijan, but it is surely not enough

The Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Ministry has intentions to improve the situation. Exact work is underway in this connection. It is planned that hotels providing low-grade service will be shut down and licensing of hotels is expected to be introduced. The country is improving its tourism infrastructure, and is opening new hotels.

Over the past four years some 288 hotels have been built in the country and the constriction of additional 25 hotels are in progress. Over 40 hotels have undergone certification and received "stars". As of end of 2006, Azerbaijan had six 5-star hotels and one 5+.

Azerbaijan establishes contacts with the World Tourist Organization (WTO) and this organization can render direct aid. It brightly testifies for increase of interests towards the Azerbaijani tourism in the nearest future with the consideration of all tasks.

The State Program on Development of Tourism in the country is pending its adoption by the Government. In case of its successful implementation in the nearest 10 years the annual number of guests from Azerbaijan might increase to 3mln. In 2006 over 923,000 tourists visited Azerbaijan and in 2007 there is expected to increase to 1mln.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, last year the country obtained AZN 670mln from tourist activities. The Azerbaijani economy receives only 10% of its revenues from tourism. On average, each guest leaves some $800 in the country. That is not much, but Azerbaijan has sufficient potential to increase this figure.

Tourism is one of spheres, which actively impacts the progress of national economy. This sector might bring tremendous incomes to the country's treasury. Moreover, tourism is a tool, which will enable to open new jobs, to solve acute problem of unemployment in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has all objective conditions and preconditions for the development of tourism. The tourist information centers opening in Baku and regions of the country will greatly contribute it.

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