TOURISM TO BECOME HUGE SOURCE OF INCOMES IN Azerbaijan
Merger of tourism and culture into one Ministry is very expedient from the aspect that tourism is a propaganda of a national culture. Moreover, tourism is regarded in Azerbaijan as one of the priority fields of economy, included in the state program on development of the country. The development of tourism, as the government suggest, is the development of non-oil sector, which popularizes Azerbaijan in the international arena not only as an oil country, but so a country with rich fauna and flora, unique architecture monuments. Azerbaijans entrance to the World Tourism Organization in 2001 gave a new impetus to the development of international relatiosnsips in shere of tourism.
The analysis showed that the priorities that Azerbaijan will receive from development of tourism are very too many. Lets note the major ones. Firstly, international tourism is biggest source of incomes throughout the world, as well as important factor for provision of payment balance in many countries. Tourism sector ensures considerable part of the GDP in many small and developing countries. As of data, the international and internal tourism holds approximately 10% of the world GDP.
Secondly, the development of tourism promises opening of new jobs. Around 100 million people are involved in the sphere of tourism worldwide. The overwhelming majority of jobs fall on enterprises small and medium-scale tourism, as well as family enterprises. The researches show that the growth pace of jobs in the sphere of tourism exceeds in the indices in any other sphere of economy 1.5 times.
Thirdly, enterprises and jobs linked with tourism are usually established in less developed countries of the region and enables to balance its economic capacities and assist in strengthening of rural people.
Fourthly, the industry of tourism and traveling ensures huge investments in the development of infrastructure. The major part of the capital investments allows improvement of living conditions of local people and quality of arrival of tourists. Projects on development of tourism partially include the construction and upgrade of airports, roads, sea terminals, sewerage water treatment system, restoration of culture monuments, as well as establishment of museums and information centers in the nature objects.
Azerbaijan is a country of tourism with bright future. First of all, following its priority location in the southern latitudes and favorable climatic belts. The most essential factor promoting stability of optimal terms for rest and tourism, is the unique relief of the country. With consideration of the said one can acknowledge that Azerbaijan possesses tremendous potential capacities and pre-conditions for development of all types of tourism, rest and treatment. The transcontinental route Great Silk Way, constructed under the aegis of WTO in close cooperation with UNESCO, by provides favorable terms for the development of tourism in Azerbaijan.
Hat steps have been taken in the country for the development of tourism and how do they justify themselves? The Analysis showed that much has been done in this direction and the results of on eyes.
Firstly, the State program on the development of tourism in Azerbaijan 2002-2005 has been implemented by 90%. It resulted in annual rise of the number of foreign tourists by 20-30%, whereas rise comprises only 3-4% in average. As of 2004, the number of in-coming tourists to Azerbaijan exceeded the figure of 2003 by 33% and comprised 1,350 million people, or 150,000 people more than the forecast. In 2004 the tourists visiting the country were mainly from Russia and other CIS countries, as well as the UK, France, the United States, Iran and China.
Secondly, from 2002 to 2005 the number of tourist companies involved only in inner tourism, grew 7 times in Azerbaijan. Moreover, a voucher system is being established in the country and it commits all tourist agencies and companies with relevant licensing to offer guides and interpreters as part of services.
Thirdly, big investments are put in the tourist industry, which increases the number of hotels and resort zone, administrative buildings, trade and entertaining centers. Thus, in 2002-2005 around 70 new hotel complexes opened in the country and certification of hotels carried out. The reconstruction and tourist bases and resorts are underway, new routes and resort zones with advanced equipment are being established.
It would necessary to note that in April 2006 Baku will host the 5th jubilee international Tourism an Traveling Exhibition of Azerbaijan, which provides the young tourism companies not only to establish business partnership relations, but also to get familiar with the experience of the world tourist companies. One of the key objectives is to assist in export orientation of Azerbaijani goods producers, assist them in exit to foreign markets, as well as attraction of international companies to the country and respectively boost the in-flow of foreign investments.
Concerning the problems in this sector, one can confess that they really exist. First of all it is dealt with the necessity of upgrade and expansion of logistics of tourism, improvement of service, establishment of advanced tourism infrastructure, accomplishment of areas visited by tourists, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of many tourist objects referred as culture monuments, training of qualified personnel. The resolution of all problems is possible only if there is a relevant legislative base.
Another serious problem is linked with incomplete system of collection and processing of statistic data about tourism. The existing forms of statistic observations in all levels do not reflect real state of tourism sector. It results in washing out of incomes among the enterprises of the tourist industry, which obviously tackles the definition of real incomes and expenses in the sphere of tourism.
It is very important to develop an internal tourism. Attraction of residents of the capital, who prefer a rest abroad, to the regions of the country will enable them to get familiar with the national color of these areas.
No less tan important factor is that for the time being the foreign tourists do not know Azerbaijan so well, while their number is so high as it could be. For instance, the number of travelers from Azerbaijan to Austria increases, while the Austrians know so little about and less attracted these areas. The point is that they do not have enough information about Azerbaijan and it is necessary to hold active propaganda of the region and create comfortable transport routes to increase the number of in-coming tourists.
The foreign companies interested in the development of tourism market in Azerbaijan could greatly contribute in it. They suggest the development of different types of tourism in Azerbaijan, including culture-cognitive, ecological, hinting, eco-tourism, and beach tourism. There are perspectives for opening several winter routes for tourists interested in mountain climbing. Thus, specialists of French re-creation complex, engaged in mountain-skiing tourism, compiled their recommendations and master-plans for opening of routes.
Thus, in the nearest years Azerbaijan can become a culture-tourist center in the Caucasus and respectively, should be ready for admission of more and more number of lovers of foreign tourism. After all we have large opportunities to slake their thirst for adventures, interests on life, culture and architecture heritage.