Azerbaijan reached new heights in the tourism sector, as over 2.8 million tourists from 196 countries visited the Caspian Sea coastal country in 2018, according to data released by the State Statistics Committee.
The number of foreigners and stateless persons entering Azerbaijan last year was nearly 2.85 million, showing a 5.7 percent increase from the total figure for 2017. July was the busiest month for tourism, making up 11.6 percent of the total influx for the year.
Tourists from Russia accounted for 30.9 percent of visitors, while travelers from Georgia came in at number two, or 21.4 percent. Turkish residents came in at number three, making up 10.2 percent of the total, while travelers from Iran accounted for 8.5 percent of visitors.
Every tenth tourist in Azerbaijan throughout the year was from a Gulf country, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar. The number of tourists from the European Union increased by 6.7 percent from 2017, reaching 112,500 in 2018.
The tourism industry has been on an upward trend in Azerbaijan over the past few years thanks to new developments in the hospitality sector and tourism infrastructure.
Nationals from 15 countries can get a visa to Azerbaijan within minutes upon their arrival at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku. The service is provided by ASAN (meaning “easy” in Azerbaijani), which is the state agency for public services. At the same time, citizens and stateless persons residing in 95 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Brazil and China, are eligible for single-entry electronic visas to Azerbaijan that can be issued following an online application. The standard option provides for e-Visa issuance within three days, while an urgent e-visas takes only three hours to process.
Efforts to expand tourism do not stop with visas, however. The Azerbaijan Tourism Board and the National Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan unveiled a new tourism brand of the country in October to inject new life into the country’s global marketing strategy. The slogan “Take Another Look” was selected, with an aim to make Azerbaijan the most attractive and successful tourism destination in the Caucasus region. Authorities hope to double the number of tourists coming into Azerbaijan by 2023.
The National Tourism Agency also started launching global offices across five continents, to help put Azerbaijan on the global tourism map as a safe, friendly and welcoming country with a rich culture and unique heritage. Offices in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, India and Russia have already opened, and four more representative offices are scheduled to open later this year.