With an ambition to double current inbound tourism by 2023, Azerbaijan Tourism Board is aggressively promoting the destination across the globe whose economy primarily thrives on oil and gas. Talking about the Indian market, chief executive officer, Florian Sengstschmid says that India is among the top ten markets.

Business Traveller India speaks to Sengstschmid for an insight on the region.

Tell us, why Azerbaijan is becoming a popular travel destination among Indian travellers? 

Ever since we launched the ‘Take Another look’ campaign in India in 2018, Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), the national body that supports Azerbaijan’s growing tourism industry, has witnessed a 66.8 per cent increase in tourism from India in 2019. Markets with significant increase in visitors include UK (27 per cent), China (64 per cent), and Germany (22 per cent). This campaign is encouraging travellers worldwide to explore the region’s hidden gems. Here, flight connectivity also plays a major role. For instance, the new direct route between Baku and New Delhi by Azerbaijan Airlines is already boosting the flow of tourists from India.

Indian citizens are eligible to apply e-visa that can be availed in three hours enabling smooth access to the country. Moreover, Indians like to visit Azerbaijan because they find the culture and environment of the region quite similar to that of their own. Lastly, Azerbaijan is also experiencing a surge in luxury hotels, and several big hospitality chains are choosing the region in setting up a base here.

To promote the destination in India, what are some steps that the Azerbaijan Tourism Board is taking into consideration?

India is a key market for us with immense potential due to its high number of international travellers and growing interest in the Caucasus region.

We have already begun the year by participating in OTM Mumbai, one of the leading travel trade shows in the world. After we received valuable feedback from our ‘three-city roadshow’ in India covering Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in September 2019, we also have plans to do many more activities like this.

Azerbaijan Tourism Board is also working towards finalising a three-city roadshow across Delhi, Ahmadabad and Mumbai, building partnerships with airlines and tour operators in the country. Indian carriers are also currently assessing the market and potential flight connectivity.

What segment of the Indian traveller is the current focus?

Currently, the strategy is to attract business, wedding, leisure and bleisure travellers. The trend of solo travel has been seen here as well. We also target MICE travellers. In fact, we are presently hosting a large-scale MICE event in the region.

What should the tourists look for in the region?

We are also looking forward to welcoming a number of the film industry to discover our stunning landscapes, including countryside and winter ski slopes and adventure trails like hiking, private jeep tours to the mountains, cultural experiences such as vineyard tours, art and music festivals.