The annual Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, AITF 2017 was held from 6 to 8 April in Baku Expo Center. The 16th exhibition again gathered 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.
The exhibition was preceded by a press conference and was attended by Mr. Aydin Ismiyev - Head of Tourism Department of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Farid Mammadov – Executive Director of Iteca Caspian, Ms. Jamila Guliyeva - Project manager. 45 media representatives attended the press-conference from APA, ARB TV, Azertag, AzTv, ITV, Lider TV, SalamNews, TREND and others.
Since its inception AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In the last few years Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has toured the exhibition and met with exhibitors. This year was no exception, as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva visited the AITF 2017 exhibition, observed the exposition that reflects the regional tourist potential of Azerbaijan, and familiarised themselves with the national pavilions of foreign countries.
Abulfas Garayev - Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Edward Strachan - Regional Director of ITE Group took part at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
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 travelers, and as such the participating countries increase their flow of tourists from and to Azerbaijan.
In 2017 the exhibition presented 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. 17 national and regional stands were presented at the exhibition. Among the countries represented were 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 added their national stands to the exhibition for the first time with the support of their embassies in Azerbaijan. Debutants among the regional stands were Dagestan (Russia), Kazan (Russia) and Odessa (Ukraine).
Representatives of resorts, tourism companies, hotels and hotel chains, airlines etc. participated at national and regional stands. Among foreign exhibitors were 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 joined the AITF participants. AITF debutants made up 34% of the total number of participants in 2017.
AITF presents the rich tourist potential of Azerbaijan to foreign participants, promoting the increased popularity of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination. The Meeting of the Tourism Council of Azerbaijan, timed with the exhibition, was 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, disclosed 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 was 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. The regional tourist offices of Ismayilli, Khachmas, Lenkoran, Masalli, Sheki and Sumgait were presented. These were the regions that were coordinated by the afore-mentioned offices. The stand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic presented the unique nature, historic sites, hotels and clinics that Nakhchivan holds. The tourist potential of the Karabakh region was demonstrated on a separate stand. Also among the local participants were 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 portals. The Administration of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan participated in exhibition for the second time and presented tourism opportunities of Icherisheher. The 1st Baku Shopping Festival which was held in Baku also participated in the exhibition.
Thus, within three days the exhibition clearly demonstrated 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 Tourism”. This year, the latest achievements in the field of medical, health and SPA tourism were 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) took part too.
This year's workshop, which was successfully held, gathered even more participants and allowed 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 arranged meetings with companies that they were interested in. The workshop was attended by such companies as: ABA Travel, Altus Travel, ATA Travel, Freestyle Safari and others.
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 have started 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 presented 10 handicraft masters who offered 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 disclosed some of the secrets of their creativity.
The organisers awarded certificates to sponsors, partners and exhibitors who stood out with their imaginative approaches to their work:
Best Newcomer – Embassy of Colombia
Best Destination Promotion - Bulgaria
Best National Concept - Georgia
Best Performance – Stavropol
Best Shell Scheme – The Czech Republic
Best Stand Design - Izmir
Most Active Work With Visitors – Belarus
Most Attractive Stand - The Dominican Republic
Best country presentation - Turkey
Best presentation of a region - Dagestan
Best city presentation – Kazan
Best Corporate Style Presentation – Gilan Hospitality Group
This year the exhibition was visited by 4738 people, 80% of whom were industry professionals.
The organisers of the exhibition are Iteca Caspian and its UK partner ITE Group.
In 2018 the AITF exhibition will be held on 05-07 April in Baku Expo Center.
Mohammed Adil Embarch, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Azerbaijan
The perfectly organized AITF exhibition, with its ever increasing number and range of participants and visitors, is a reliable meeting place for industry professionals.
Olga Sapozhkova, Director of the Representative Office in Russia and CIS countries, Larus Viaggi
We are very pleased with the organisation of the exhibition, and in turn with the visitor activity as well as the participants represented.
Svetlana Hasanova, Manager of Freestyle Safari
- The workshop organized as part of the AITF exhibition is both important and useful. In fact, this is an opportunity to visit two events which have a common orientation, but are of different formats at the same time. This is where the double benefit stems from! It is a place where you can get professional acquaintances with colleagues and potential partners. If communication takes place in an active environment at the exhibition, B2B format of the workshop provides for a strictly defined timeframe based on pre-planned meetings. That allows you to prepare in advance for the meeting and not to waste time on general topics. In addition, having made preliminary contact at the workshop, we can visit the company's stand and discuss business matters in more details. This year's workshop is organized at a high level and most importantly, it presents quality partners, companies and countries that we need.