Simplification of formalization rules of visas for foreign tourists in Azerbaijan to produce fruit by next tourist season

Azerbaijan, Baku, April19 /Trend, A.Akhundov/

The new amendments to the Law of Azerbaijan "On Entry to and Exit from the Country, and Passports" will produce the real fruit by the next tourist season, Nahid Bagirov, Head of the Association of Tourism of Azerbaijan, told Trend on Tuesday.
As 2011 is declared the Year of tourism, the Parliament of Azerbaijan in the early April added a series of amendments to the Law "On Entry to and Exit from the Country, and Passports" in order to simplify the rules of formalization of visas for tourists arriving in Azerbaijan.
"We currently wait for President's decree approving these changes. Anyway, we will obtain the real result from the amendments by the next season as the majority of foreign tourists who are going to visit Azerbaijan this year have already received visas," Bagirov said.
The basic advantage envisioned by these amendments is that such visas can be formalized through either telegraph or e-mail. Visa issue denial should be substantiated. Tourists may be issued one-time entry/exit visas with the validity period of 30 days.

"A foreign tourist who desired to visit Azerbaijan faced certain visa acquisition-related problems and thereby chose another, more preferable option. Such negatively affected the inflow of tourists to Azerbaijan," Bagirov said.
The inflow of foreign tourists to Azerbaijan is expected to increase by 20-30 percent this tourist season, he said.

"We also plan a growth of approximately 20-30 percent next season after the amendments to the Law take effect," said Bagirov.
The Association of Tourism of Azerbaijan had submitted a number of proposals to the Culture and Tourism Ministry to draft amendments to the existing legal provisions to stimulate development of the tourism market of the country.

Bagirov reported earlier that the Association's proposals concerned primarily matters of visa issue to foreigners and simplification of taxation.
Of the Association's proposals, the Association's Chief underlines the following:

- Drafting and approval of common guidebooks about Baku and the Absheron peninsula for guides;
- Conduct of specialized training courses in order to upgrade the professional level of employees of tourism companies, hotels and restaurants;
- Provision of quotas to tourism companies, and organization of tourism companies' work for the provision of relevant services to tourists at the entire security checkpoints of Azerbaijan;

- Assignation of targeted preferential credits for the reasons of provision of financial support to small- and medium-sized tourism businesses;
- Drafting proposals over simplification of tourist visa issue rules, with the aim of increasing the inflow of tourists to Azerbaijan;

- Drafting proposals over identification of a separate professional day of tourism employees and over the provision of state awards to them
- Arrangement of information tours for representatives of embassies of foreign countries to Azerbaijan's tourism regions.
- Supplying hotels and inns with guidelines of Azerbaijan, etc.

According to him, the proposals also assume the arrangement and improvement of different festival, exhibitions and other undertakings designed to inform foreign citizens of the opportunities of historical, religious, cultural, cuisine and other kinds of tourism in Azerbaijan.

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