Azerbaijan enhances sustainable tourism
The tourism industry in Azerbaijan has taken off over the last decade, making a substantial contribution to the country’s economy. In 2019, Azerbaijan achieved its highest-ever number of international visitors, reaching 3.2 million visitors. As the global Covid-19 pandemic prompted the closure of borders and enforcement of international travel restrictions, it had a significant negative impact on the global tourism industry – and Azerbaijan was deeply affected as well. However, thanks to proactive government measures and coordinated efforts across the tourism industry stakeholders, the country has been able to minimise the negative effect and re-strategise to develop sustainable tourism activities for the post-pandemic period.
The pandemic has had an influence on the preferences of travellers – today, there is an increasing demand for authentic, eco-friendly, sustainable tourism. Azerbaijan offers numerous opportunities to visitors in the post-pandemic era seeking to discover off-the-beaten-path adventures, pristine nature and retreat away from the crowds.
Home to 9 out of 11 distinct climatic zones, the landscape of Azerbaijan offers diverse scenery with everything from forests and steppes to beaches, and lush and snowy mountains. The abundance of natural resources and great tourism potential creates favorable conditions for the development of eco- and agrotourism in the country.
Home to 9 out of 11 distinct climatic zones, the landscape of Azerbaijan offers everything from forests and steppes to beaches, and lush and snowy mountains
In close cooperation with international birding experts and Azerbaijan Ornithological Society, certified birdwatching destinations like Khinalig and Laza in Guba and Gusar regions in the north, Beshbarmag mountain just an hour’s drive from Baku, as well as the Talish Mountains in the south have been established. With around 400 species of birds, Azerbaijan is a perfect destination for birdwatchers from around the world.
In 2020, evaluation and marking of hiking routes in Azerbaijan started with 15 routes in the north, north-west and west regions assessed and signposted. Trail marking allows visitors to hike between remote villages, camp in magnificent scenery and enjoy outdoor activities. For the future, it is planned to develop hiking and trekking routes across the Caucasus.
More recently, the foundation of the Mud Volcanoes Tourism Complex in Gobustan just 40 minutes’ drive from Baku was laid – soon, this will be a perfect destination for glamping and star gazing in the unique moonlike landscape of the mud volcanoes, providing visitors with an immersive experience.
Azerbaijan is well-known for its unmatched cuisine and variety of fresh produce. To experience the amazing tastes, culture, nature and traditions, and get first-hand experience in farming and cultivation, Azerbaijan has introduced the Slow Food Travel concept – an idea to enhance the value chain in rural areas, preserve agricultural and food biodiversity and emphasize the importance of local gastronomy and economic regeneration in those areas. Regional accommodation facilities and guesthouse infrastructure are also being assessed and improved to cater to the needs of travelers and contribute to the social development of local communities.With more than 4.3 million vaccine doses administered and an improvement of the epidemiological situation, Azerbaijan is now accepting citizens and residents of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Russia, Turkey, Israel, US, UK and Hungary under special conditions. This first step towards returning to a “new normal” means that Azerbaijan will emerge stronger than ever before. - Advertorial.