Azerbaijan has emerged as a hot ticket destination for Arab visitors because of its culture – the halal food, the hospitable people, the music, history and deep diversity – features that have served to build the influx of Arab tourists.
Gabala, a mountainous, wooded region of Azerbaijan and a paradise for nature lovers, has similarly come to be a popular summer and winter getaway for the royal households of the Gulf area.
Apart from escaping the sweltering desert summers, Arabs can also take advantage of the religious similarities that have Azerbaijan catering to devout Muslim travellers – with points of worship that are easily accessible, areas where men and women have separate swimming pools, and beach areas where alcohol is not served.
“The fundamental thing a tourist searches for when deciding on a destination is peace and safety. Only then do they look towards the service, quality, and price,” said Rashid AL Noori, chairman of the Representative Office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan in GCC. “It is this proven safety and peace in Azerbaijan that has contributed positively to how visitors perceive the country. Aside from the safety, we have conducted many workshops, roadshows and seminars for GCC travel agents and media people to get them better acquainted with what Azerbaijan has to offer the Arab traveller.”
Data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by 24.9 per cent in the early six months of the year. According to the minister, Abulfas Garayev, the country received 844,000 foreign visitors in the first half of 2017.
The Islamic Solidarity Games and The Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe held from May 12 to 22 and June 23 to 25 respectively, in Baku, contributed massively to the growth of the number of Arab tourists who visited Azerbaijan.
While Russians and Iranian tourists continue to top the list of visitors to Azerbaijan, most of them are tempted by cheaper all-inclusive packages. The biggest percentage jump was seen in the number of high-profile, high-spending tourists from the Arab countries.