On 6 April, the 16th Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, AITF 2017 started its work in Baku Expo Centre. Along with AITF 2017, the 11th Caucasus International Hospitality Exhibition, HOREX Caucasus 2017 opened too. The organisers of these events are Iteca Caspian LLC and its British partner ITE Group plc.
At the opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan Abulfas Garayev noted that the largest regional tourism exhibition, which is held under the patronage of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), has gathered visitors from all over the world for many years. The current exhibition, unlike previous ones, has a more targeted character and a greater saturation. Azerbaijan tourism is experiencing a new stage of development. The adopted “Strategic Road Map for the Development of a Specialized Tourism Industry in Azerbaijan”, alongside the constant attention of the country's leadership to this area of the economy of the non-oil sector, has contributed to the progress of domestic tourism. For the last three months of this year, if compared to the corresponding period of 2016, there has been a 25 percent increase in the arrival of tourists.
The Minister has emphasized the organisation of the largest international events by the National Tourism Bureau in Azerbaijan, which included the celebration of Novruz Holiday, Shopping Festivals, etc. All of these have positively influenced the prospects of popularizing Azerbaijan.
Mr. Edward Strachan, Executive Director of ITE Group Plc, has expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan for their active support to the organization of the exhibition and promotion of Azerbaijan abroad. Mr Edward Strachan has further noted the new participants of the exhibition (Cuba, Dagestan, Odessa, Kazan) and has stressed that AITF actively participates in the development of Azerbaijan's domestic tourism, demonstrating annually the opportunities of the country's tourism market.
This year, different regions, including Karabakh, demonstrate the country’s tourism potential with colourful and bright stands. A vibrant stand represents the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan separately. Representatives of domestic tourism are also actively promoted at the stand for the Tourism Association of Azerbaijan which gathered about 20 tour companies, hotels, and sanatoriums from Azerbaijan
This exhibition demonstrates a wide range of tourist services, uniting the main players of this market from around the world, who bring with them a “mosaic” of the different corners of the Earth. 272 companies from 22 countries offer a variety of destinations, focusing on airlines, hotel chains and other types of tourist services. Among the participants there are companies from Azerbaijan, Italy, Switzerland and many others.
Traditionally, national stands of Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey and the Czech Republic take part at the exhibition. Rogaška Slatina (Slovenia) and Stavropol Territory (Russia) participate with regional stands. Every year new participants join the exhibition. So, for the first time, Colombia and Cuba present their tourism opportunities, with the support of their embassies in Azerbaijan. Among foreign debutants there are also travel companies from Italy, China and the United Kingdom.
The exhibition continues to develop the Medical and Health Tourism sectors. This year, the latest achievements in the field of health and SPA tourism are represented by medical centres, health resorts and sanatoriums from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Hungary, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey and other countries. Major networks of health clinics as “Acibadem Healthcareer Group” (Turkey), Belprofsoyuzkurort (Belarus) and others also are taking part in this year’s exhibition.
AITF 2017 announces all the most interesting and new developments of the upcoming season. Exotic destinations such as Belarus, Bulgaria, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland and others will move closer for Azerbaijani travellers thanks to this exhibition.
Since the day of its inception, AITF has been actively supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The exhibition is also supported by the long-term and unfaltering participation of the Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA). AITF is also backed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Asia-Pacific Tourist Association (PATA).