Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Dec. 4-8)

Analysis Materials 12 December 2017 15:15 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan's historical, cultural, natural heritage should be shared with world: UNWTO

The historical, cultural and natural heritage of Azerbaijan should be shared with the rest of the world, UN World Tourism Organization Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

"Azerbaijan is full of treasures, both of tangible and intangible nature. I believe that there is a strong potential in tourism development by marketing the authenticity, traditions and multiculturalism of the country together with its unique landscapes. The historical, cultural and natural heritage of Azerbaijan should be shared with the rest of the world," he said.

Pololikashvili noted that tourism development is about continuous innovation but also about identifying and marketing the uniqueness of a destination.

"In that regard, I believe that promoting those values that Azerbaijan has, particularly in those emerging markets that are not that familiar with the Caucasus and the Caspian region, can bring many opportunities," he said.

Touching upon improving the position of the countries’ tourism destinations, he said there are different mechanisms and dynamics and each destination should identify the most suitable ones.

"In general, improving competitiveness through quality and service, defending the authenticity of the destination and developing promotional strategies in different markets are used in positioning a destination. Tourism today is about experiences and this product development should be oriented to experiences, such as gastronomy, culture, arts and others," Pololikashvili said.

He further stressed that rail tourism is receiving increasing interest everywhere, because the traveler sees him/herself as an adventurer and also because the train is a perfect sustainable means of transport linking transnational routes, a growing phenomenon in the tourism sector.

"Eurorail, for instance, has been a great opportunity and has contributed not only to open possibilities but also to change the mindset of many travelers. The particular geostrategic location of Azerbaijan would add value to further development of train tourism in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey through Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway that was opened on October 30, 2017," he said, stressing that this will be an additional opportunity to attract long-haul and high-yield visitors from source markets.

Asked about prospects of marine tourism in the Caspian, he said the Caspian links five countries, many cultures and traditions, and therefore holds a tremendous potential for tourism development and product innovation, which is not possible without regional cooperation, "especially when we speak about cruise tourism as a catalyst to further transform the tourism assets in the region."

BTK - key link of East-West transport corridor: Deputy Minister

Uzbekistan watches the projects on creation of a ramified multimodal infrastructure, including rail, road, sea and air links implemented by its foreign partners - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, with great attention and optimism, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Sahib Saifnazarov told Trend.

"The launch of mutually beneficial and efficient transport corridors creates all the necessary conditions for the successful integration of our countries into global economic development processes. These projects are also very important for attracting foreign investment, sustainable development of export potential and expanding the geography of supplies of products produced in our countries," the deputy minister said.

He also noted that these corridors will contribute to the increase of attractiveness of transit corridors, running through the territories of our countries, and allow to effectively use the transport infrastructure, as well as to increase the volumes of cargo transportation in various directions.

"In this regard, we can’t underestimate the importance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad both for the countries of Central Asia and the subcontinent in general, since it is called to become a key link in the large-scale transport corridor "East-West," Saifnazarov said.

The BTK will also contribute to creation of a single railway corridor "China - the countries of Central Asia - the Caspian Sea - Azerbaijan - Georgia - Turkey", providing access to the Mediterranean ports, as well as to European markets through the Marmaray tunnel," according to the deputy minister.

"The forecasts show that one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo per year will be transported along the Baku-Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki-Kars route. It is assumed that the level of transportation may be increased to three million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo. In particular, it is expected to attract significant volumes of cargo from China and Kazakhstan," Saifnazarov said.

Uzbekistan is interested in actively using and increasing the volume of its foreign trade cargo transportation along this corridor, according to Saifnazarov.

The deputy minister also added that the construction of the railroad has made it possible to form two alternative transit corridors for Uzbekistan along the following routes: Hodjidavlet / Farab station –Turkmenbashi - Baku-Tbilisi port - Akhalkalaki station - Kars-Ankara-Istanbul station (3,414 kilometers); Karakalpakia station - Aktau port - Baku-Tbilisi port - Akhalkalaki station - Kars-Ankara-Istanbul station (2,820 km).

According to Saifnazarov, transport and time costs for the new route will be significantly lower compared to the route passing through Iran: Khojidavlet / Farab station - Serakhs / Mashhad station-Razi / Kapikroy station (Iran-Turkish border ) - 2,375 kilometers.

In this regard, Uzbekistan considers it necessary to work out the issue of concluding appropriate agreements on transit transport of its goods, as well as the application of optimized tariff preferences for transportation along a new route.

"The launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will serve to further strengthen our trade and economic relations, significantly enhance the transit and economic potential of our countries and in general contribute to the prosperity of the entire region," the deputy minister said.