Important annual Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair, AITF 2018 starts on 5 April in Baku Expo Center. The 17th exhibition once again gathers 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.
The official opening ceremony was attended by Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili - Secretary General, World Tourism Organization, Mrs. Irena Georgiyeva - Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria and Mr. Edward Strachan – Regional Director of ITE Group.
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Mr. Abulfas Garayev emphasized that the exhibition once again took a worthy place in the global calendar of tourism events. Mr Minister said that the growth rate of Azerbaijani tourism was characterized by some positive results. In this regard, the results of the past year are quite indicative; for the first time, foreign tourists spent more money in Azerbaijan than our citizens did abroad. Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili noted the growing attractive role of Azerbaijan as an international tour operator, which is reflected as a worthy exposition of this exhibition. The development of new technologies and creation of new projects, along with the introduction of modern business models promote the prospective growth of inbound tourism in Azerbaijan.
Mrs. Irena Georgieva expressed het satisfaction with both business and friendly relations between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, and added that against the background of these relations, AITF 2018 offers new opportunities for expanding partnership in the sphere of tourism. Mr Edward Strachan led impressive statistics on the exhibition and thanked the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, the WTO and other line organizations for their support to the project.
WHOLE WORLD. ONE EXHIBITION is the apt motto of the AITF exhibition which welcomes 277 companies and organisations from 20 countries worldwide. Year on year, AITF receives new participants both from Azerbaijan and abroad. AITF debutants made up 31% of the total number of participants in 2018. The country-partner of AITF 2018 is Bulgaria, which annually takes part in the exhibition with a national stand. This year’s exhibitors present more than 90 destinations and other tourist services, which gives an excellent opportunity to choose a non-standard recreation programme for even the most demanding customers. The active participation of countries has become a calling card of AITF; in total, this year’s exhibition welcomes 13 national and regional expositions from Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Dagestan (Russia), Rogaški Slatina (Slovenia) and the Stavropol Territory (Russia). AITF 2018’s debutant is East Java (Indonesia). At the national and regional stands, representatives of health resorts, sanatoriums, tourism companies, hotels and hotel chains will be offering their services.
The AITF exhibition mirrors the development of Azerbaijan's domestic tourism. Annually the exhibition announces new opportunities which are offered, as tourist destinations, to foreigners. The Action Plan for the development of culture and tourism in Azerbaijan is available at the stand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a permanent exhibitor. This year Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) will present a wide range of inbound and outbound tourism opportunities at its stand which has gathered about 20 tour operators, hotels and sanatoriums from Azerbaijan.
It is hard to recognize any country in the world without being familiar with its traditions and unique nature of regions. Therefore, the regional tourism centres of Azerbaijan always participate with bright and diverse expositions. The regional tourist offices of Ganja, Ismayilli, Khachmas, Lenkoran, Masalli, Sheki and Sumgait will be presented. Traditionally, the exhibition presents the stand of the Karabakh region, which will acquaint the visitors with is cultural and historical heritage. The second time ASAN Visa, an electronic visa portal, will have a stand at the exhibition where it will be possible to learn about all the subtleties and advantages of obtaining an electronic Azerbaijani visa. The development of tourism in the historical centre of Baku, the Old City “Icherisheher”, will be demonstrated by the Administration of State Historical-Architectural Reserve “Icherisheher” under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Baku Shopping Festival will also participate in the exhibition which has already gained wide popularity beyond the territory of Azerbaijan. On their stand the visitors can get information about the participation in Festival. At the exhibition, you will be able to get acquainted with the local tour operators “Ulduz Tourism” and “Pasha Travel”, the company “Zadagan” that offers textile products manufactured with a national approach, as well as the hotels chains Absheron Hotels Group, Gilan Hospitality, Ulu Hospitality and many others.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH TOURISM
Azerbaijani tourists often choose to combine their holidays with medical treatment procedures in sanatoriums or health resorts around the world, where they can receive high-quality health and cosmetology services. Today medical tourism is one of the most dynamically developing areas of tourism business in the world. Therefore, the exposition is being developed to attract new participants. In line with the current market trends, the exhibition actively develops the Medical and Health Tourism Sector, and the number of participants representing this sector is increasing from year to year. This year, more than 40 medical centres, clinics, health resorts and sanatoriums from the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries will take part in the medical tourism sector. Participants will demonstrate a list of services that will allow them to combine rest abroad with obtaining highly qualified medical care. Thus, within three days the exhibition will clearly demonstrate a wide range of tourism services, airlines, national and regional tourist organisations and hotel chains.
Within the framework of the exhibition B2B meetings between foreign exhibitors and local travel companies are held as part of AITF. These B2B meetings allow participants to meet not only at the stand, but also to talk with their fellow tour operators face to face and to exchange experiences in specially dedicated areas. This year’s B2B meetings will be held on the 6th of April at Baku Expo Center and will create conditions to establish business contacts with representatives of leading local travel companies, while conducting direct negotiations and expanding the partner base. The exhibition participants also do not miss the opportunity to talk about new destinations and their promotion in the market; the National Tourism Agency of Italy has organised an interesting presentation for representatives of the tourism industry under the name “Italian Kaleidoscope”, while the Czech company “In Travel” will conduct presentation on the resorts of the Czech Republic.
Visitors and exhibitors will be able to step back from negotiations and business meetings at the foyer of Baku Expo Center, which will host the Travel Mood Festival during the third exhibition day. Representatives of the participating countries will form part of this event. Here, the central stage will be used by the dancing and music groups from different regions and countries. This festival is an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the traditions and culture of various countries and regions worldwide. After such a holiday, you will definitely want to visit these countries. Also in the foyer are organised the stand of the Center for Simplified Support for Family Business (ABAD), where will be presented products of the Center's masters. Also in the foyer you can see unique handmade products of Sandiqca brand. Each product of this brand (accessories, kerchiefs, baskets and much more) reflects the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan.
Moreover, a specially dedicated area, “My next tourist destination is ...”, will be available in the foyer of Baku Expo Centre during the exhibition days; here, visitors will be able to take memorable photos with those participating cities or countries they would like to visit in the future.
The organisers of the AITF exhibition have initiated the project “Because we care!” which will bring together handicraft masters who have transformed their hobby into a business. At a dedicated stand, which will be located around a symbolic fruit tree in the foyer of Baku Expo Centre, eight needlewomen will be showcasing their unique knickknacks and accessories - natural handmade soaps and organic cosmetics, children's textiles and bed cloths, knitted bags and coffee topiary, polymeric modelling, accessories and interior compositions, textile dolls and ponies, wood furniture for dolls, soft educational books, tablets and much more.
At one site with the AITF exhibition takes place the 12th Caucasus International Hospitality Exhibition “Everything for Hotels, Restaurants and Supermarkets”, HOREX Caucasus 2018. HOREX Caucasus is the sole trade event for the hospitality industry of the South Caucasus and Caspian regions providing excellent opportunities to showcase goods and services and to effectively exchange ideas and experiences with leading industry players, customers and partners. It is also a platform where one can analyze the competitiveness of the market and build strong business relations. The exhibition is annually visited by manufacturing companies, buyers and industry experts.
This year HOREX Caucasus will welcome participating companies from Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia, Turkey and other countries. The exhibitors will demonstrate coffee, truffles (mushrooms) and truffles' products, professional washing equipment, cleaning agents, professional cleaning equipment, dishes and stainless steel products, and air filters for the HoReCa sector and others. For the first time, Giuliano Tartufi, a leading edge producer of truffles (mushrooms) and truffle products in Italy, will be participating in the HOREX Caucasus 2018.
Several new events will take place as part of the business programme at HOREX Caucasus 2018; for the first time, the organisers will hold B2B meetings between exhibitors and local companies. These business meetings will create additional opportunities for business communication. For the first time at HOREX Caucasus 2018, the barista championship will be held. The organiser of this fragrant competition is The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the exhibition participant. At this championship, several experts will compete in the preparation of coffee and coffee-based drinks by using the Latte art technique.
For the first time, participants will join the contest “Innovation Award” which will form part of the HOREX Caucasus exhibition. At the registration desk, visitors will receive a special card with the name of company that presents innovations. These special cards will allow visitors to vote for those companies that showcased the best innovations in their own fields. Once the voting is over, the company with the highest number of votes will be awarded an honorary certificate. In its turn, the winning company will award a special prize to one of the voted visitors.
SUPPORT & ORGANISERS
AITF and HOREX Caucasus are supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and National Confederation of The Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of Azerbaijan Republic (AEC). The AITF 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). The organisers of exhibitions are Iteca Caspian and its partner ITE Group.