Kanan bey, what is the current state of internal tourism in Azerbaijan?
The internal tourism of Azerbaijan is currently passive. As you know, tourists’ participation in weekend tours has dropped 40-50% over the summer season as the summer is over and the weather is unstable.
I would like to add that tourists are more active than in September-October of 2014. Today, the tours are mainly in the direction of Gabala and Shaki. Tours in northern and northwestern directions are also carried for 2 or 3 days during holidays.
How can you characterize the current season? What interests did the Azerbaijanis show to recreation in the districts?
This season was very favorable for tourism companies. As you know, during the European Games our tourists mainly had a rest in the regions together with foreign tourists.
The quality of tourism services is also growing in the regions, which is one of the positive factors. As for the tours to the Caucasus, tours for 3 days and 2 nights, four days and three nights to local districts were held this season and a multitour inside Azerbaijan and in this territory of Georgia was also organized.
This season there were no significant complaints during the internal tours both in summer and in season. The tourists had a good time using the services of the companies.
Some citizens argue that they could receive better services in neighbor countries. I would like to know your opinion on this issue. Is it true that Azerbaijan’s local tourism is intended only for foreign tourists?
I regard these complaints an absolutely normal event. If there are no complaints, criticism and discontent, there will be no development. I would like to note that domestic tourism is intended for the citizens of the country, while incoming tourism is for foreigners.
The services for foreigners are more expensive in Azerbaijan than for locals. Compared to some post-Soviet countries, the recreation for foreign tourists is expensive but it depends on the quality of infrastructure and services.
But, despite this, there are low-budget packages for both locals and foreign tourists, but conditions and services in such packages can be not on a high level. Our citizens love to compare prices in the sphere of tourism in our country and Turkey.
Yes, the prices in neighbor countries are lower. But if you buy the tourism package, you will see that the hotels are of lower quality there. Simply, beside the hotel services and excursions, prices in the cities are lower in neighbor states, therefore, tourists go there.
Our tourists show a greater interest in beach tourism, especially in neighbor Georgia and Turkey. Taking the advantage of the neighbor states, we would like to attract tourists in accordance with our tourism concept.
How do you see the future of domestic tourism in Azerbaijan?
I am upbeat about the future of internal tourism in Azerbaijan. 5-7 years ago the interest to domestic tourism in Azerbaijan was quite low. Now, thanks God, the situation has completely changed and it is difficult to overestimate the progress in this sphere.
In order to develop domestic tourism, it is necessary to train managers, familiar with the specifics of local tourism, attract young people in the regions, showing interest to tourism and hold regular trainings to provide services to customers. This will further accelerate the tourism development process.
There are all conditions for development of domestic tourism – vegetation, mountains, forests, sea, history, culture, cuisine, infrastructure, hotels, favorable weather conditions. It is just necessary to use existing resources correctly and professionally.