MIDDLE EAST FOCUS
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have traditionally been the three most important markets from the Middle East, Florian Sengstschmid, CEO, Azerbaijan Tourism Board, told TTN in a recent interview. “We are working on a representation office here in the UAE, which we hope to fully roll out by the second half of this year. We hope to be able to engage extensively with the region later this year.”
Azerbaijan has conducted two major events in the recent past, the UEFA Euro 2020 quarter finals (with 50 per cent live audience in the Baku Olympic Stadium) and the Formula One race from June 4th to 6th, which did not have an audience. The country has been busy preparing itself for tourists all the while.
“We have focused and invested heavily in product and destination development this past year, be it bird-watching, hiking or our up-and-coming mud volcano experience centre. A lot of investment has also been put in developing the Silk Route. We are working on a trans-Caucasus hiking trail between Georgia and Azerbaijan – therein lie ancient villages, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Shaki, Lahich – famous for its silk handicraft, and Baskal, where we have unearthed remains of mosques from the 16th century, another from the 11th century. There is a lot of archaeological restoration work happening but we are also working on the tourism
“However, while the Silk Route is work in progress, connecting with nature, green tourism, open spaces, fresh lakes and waterfalls – these continue to be key essence for the Middle East market.”
An official statement confirmed that citizens and residents of UAE, Bahrain and Qatar (plus Russia, Turkey, the United States, Israel, Great Britain and Hungary) can travel to Azerbaijan, provided they submit a state-issued, official document (such as a Covid passport) on complete vaccination or recovery from Covid-19; plus a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the flight.
Travellers between 1 to 18 years of age also need to submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the flight.
Flights connecting Baku and Dubai have already relaunched, with options from FlyDubai (daily, 7 times a week) and Azerbaijan Airlines (3 times a week) available.
Earlier this year, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board, together with the State Tourism Agency (STA) of the Republic of Azerbaijan and in cooperation with Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (AQTA), launched Sahman (Sanitation and Hygiene Methods and Norms).
“Sahman,” meaning “immaculateness” in Azerbaijani, is a nationwide campaign set to transform Azerbaijan’s existing health, safety and hygiene standards. Supported by the UNWTO, it also reaffirms the country’s commitment towards providing a world-class tourism destination for its citizens and future visitors alike in the post-pandemic world. PwC will lead the audit and certification process.
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