The annual Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, AITF 2017 starts on 6 April in Baku Expo Center. The 16th exhibition will once again gather representatives of tourism business, national and regional tourism organisations, government structures and media on one platform that reflect the dynamics of incoming and outgoing tourism in the region.
As a business tourism hub, the exhibition is the venue for important meetings, signing contracts and announcing new programs and destinations. It is where important meetings are organised, partnership agreements are concluded, and new programs and destinations are announced. In the last few years Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, visits the exhibition and meets with exhibitors. Such attention to the industry and to the exhibition itself from the country’s government gives additional impetus to the development of business relations in the tourism sphere. Since its inception AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
WHOLE WORLD. ONE EXHIBITION
The annual exhibition is rightfully considered to be a travel exchange platform where local travel companies can expand their portfolio of destinations for travellers, and as such the participating countries increase their flow of tourists from and to Azerbaijan. In 2017 the exhibition boasts over 90 foreign tourism destinations and all possible leisure options within the country, gathering 272 companies from 22 countries from around the world under its roof. The exhibition features 17 national and regional stands. Among the countries represented are Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey and the Czech Republic, as well as regional stands from Rogaška Slatina (Slovenia) and Stavropol Region (Russia).
Year on year, the exhibition is welcoming new participants both from Azerbaijan and abroad. This year Colombia and Cuba add their national stands to the exhibition for the first time with the support of their embassies in Azerbaijan. Debutants among the regional stands are Dagestan (Russia), Kazan (Russia) and Odessa (Ukraine).
Representatives of resorts, tourism companies, hotels and hotel chains, airlines etc. will participate at national and regional stands. Among foreign exhibitors are debutants from Great Britain, Russia, Italy, China, Turkey and Ukraine. For the first time, one of the largest and most significant art and cultural historical museums in the world, the State Hermitage (Russia); Hungary's largest hotel chain Hunguest Hotels and many others join the AITF participants. AITF debutants make up 34% of the total number of participants in 2017.
Conversely, AITF presents the rich tourist potential of Azerbaijan to foreign participants, promoting the increased popularity of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination. According to a report from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the country received 2, 242, 783 tourists in 2016. Compared to 2015, the number of tourists increased by 11.7%. The Strategic Roadmap for the Development of a Specialised Tourism Industry in Azerbaijan was approved by the Decree of the Azerbaijani President in December 2016, initiating further rapid development of tourism in Baku as well as other regions. In the coming years, the AITF exhibition will be a reflection of this positive momentum. The Meeting of the Tourism Council of Azerbaijan, timed with the exhibition, will be dedicated to the development of the country's domestic tourism market in the near future. The permanent participant of the exhibition, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, will disclose the Ministry’s work plan and its structures for the development of culture and tourism at its stand. A wide range of proposals for tourism in Azerbaijan and abroad will be represented at the Azerbaijan Tourism Association’s exposition (AZTA), which has gathered around 20 companies including travel agencies, hotels and hotel chains, resorts from Azerbaijan at its stand. Traditionally, the regions of Azerbaijan participate at the exhibition. In order to increase efficiency, this year structural changes were made in regional offices, and new regional departments for culture and tourism were established on the basis of existing departments. The regional tourist offices of Ismayilli, Khachmas, Lenkoran, Masalli, Sheki and Sumgait will be presented. These are the regions that are coordinated by the afore-mentioned offices. The stand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic will present the unique nature, historic sites, hotels and clinics that Nakhchivan holds. The tourist potential of the Karabakh region is demonstrated on a separate stand. Also among the local participants are hotel chain Gilan Hospitality Group, Safar Travel Agency and Winter Park Hotel Baku as well as others. Also for the first time this year, ASAN Visa, an electronic visa portal, will have a stand where it will be possible to learn about all the subtleties and advantages of obtaining an electronic Azerbaijani visa. The Administration of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan participate in Exhibition second time and will present tourism opportunities of Icherisheher. The 1st Baku Shopping Festival which will be held in Baku from 10 April to 10 May will also participate in the exhibition. On their stand the visitors can get all information about shops and other objects joined to Festival, can get information about the participation in Festival and fill application form. Also it will be possible to know how Baku Shopping Festival - Tax Free system works for Azerbaijani and foreign citizens.
Thus, within three days the exhibition will clearly demonstrate a wide range of tourism services, airlines, national and regional tourist organisations and hotel chains. The Exhibition organisers continue to develop the sector of “Medical and Health Tourism”. This year, the latest achievements in the field of medical, health and SPA tourism are demonstrated by companies, medical centres, health resorts and sanatoriums from Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and other countries. This year, the largest network of health clinics such as Acibadem Healthcare Group (Turkey), Belprofsoyuzkurort (Belarus) will take part too.
The AITF 2017 exhibition covers a whole week of presentations of tourist opportunities of the participants, as exhibitors have planned workshops, presentations and seminars both before and after the exhibition. In the days of the exhibition, on 6 April in Baku Expo Center, the presentation of tourist potential of the city of Kazan (Russia) will take place from 14:00 to 16:00.
The AITF exhibition’s uniqueness in comparison with other tourist events is that the organisers will put on a workshop for local and foreign participants and visitors within the framework of the exhibition. Participation in the Workshop will give exhibitors additional chance to convey information about company and seasonal offers to local travel agencies, allow to communicate with fellow tour operators in an informal atmosphere, exchanging experiences. The workshops were held for the first time last year and received much positive feedback from participants. This year's workshop, which will be held on 7 April at the Baku Expo Center, will gather even more participants and will allow you to establish business contacts with representatives of leading local tourist companies, to conduct direct negotiations without intermediaries and to expand your partner base. A special on-line system has been created to organise the workshop, where the participants arrange meetings with companies that they are interested in. This year, at the request of local travel companies, they also have the opportunity to schedule meetings with the participants of the exhibition through the same on-line system. Thus, participants and visitors will be able to finalise deals for the upcoming spring-summer season and learn about new directives in world tourism.
SUPPORT & ORGANISERS
AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The exhibition is also supported by the regular participant Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) and receives endorsement from international bodies such as the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). AITF is recognised by UFI (the global association of the exhibition industry). All events held by Iteca Caspian are supported by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), and the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ASK). The exhibitions are actively supported by about 50 media structures, including the journals Nargis, World Economics, Azeri Observer, TTG Russia, Doctor GEO, Medeniyyat.az, Baku Guide, ASAN Radio and others. Among Iteca Caspian’s 2017 partners are travel agency Premier Tour; the official hotels “Hyatt Regency” and “Qafqaz Point Hotel”.
This year the organisers of the exhibition will start cooperation with the Active Mom's Club community, a public organisation that has an educational, cultural and enlightening character. The main mission of the community is to unite the mothers of different ages and professions, help them in solving important issues related to the family and organise an interesting, and most importantly, useful leisure time together with the children. At the exhibition, Active Mom`s Club presents 10 handicraft masters who will offer unique jewellery, handmade dolls and much more to visitors and participants of the AITF. Mom-needlewomen have prepared master classes for visitors and participants at the exhibition, where they will disclose some of the secrets of their creativity. Also, a photo-zone will be created at the stand, where visitors will be able to take photos with the exhibitors.
The AITF exhibition will be open to only professionals from 6 to 8 April. For the general public, who have the opportunity to book tours on the spot, the entrance to the exhibition will be open on 8 April. Due to new interaction with the audience, the exhibition has increased in popularity and allows exhibitors to anticipate the expectations and requests of the end user. Now there is a children’s area at the exhibition where your children can be trusted to the professionals who will take care of your children as well as entertain them with useful and exciting activities. This service is gladly provided by Agil and Bilgi. These funny guys have caught the fancy of the children and parents for their interesting and unusual projects and fascinating excursions. The organisers of the exhibition are Iteca Caspian and its UK partner ITE Group.