Azerbaijan hopes to welcome four million tourists to the country by 2023, with plans to grow tourism by 10% each year until that date, the destination’s chief executive has revealed.
The destination hopes to close 2019 by hitting its target for three million arrivals.
Speaking to TTG at WTM London, Florian Sengstschmid also revealed tourism numbers from January to October 2019 were 10.5% above figures for the same period in 2018.
The largest growth came from countries including China, Korea, Japan and India, whose markets all grew by between 65% and 70% in 2019.
Sengstschmid partly attributed growth in China and India to new routes launched by national carrier Azerbaijan Airlines, with a new flight from Beijing-Baku launched at the end of 2018, and a new Deli-Baku route launched in April this year.
A 25% year-on-year jump in UK tourist numbers in 2019 was partly attributed to the Champions League final taking place in Baku in May.
Sengstschmid said he hoped sporting events taking place in Azerbaijan in 2020 including the Formula One and Euro 2020 matches, would entice more visitors to the country.
In 2019 the tourist board also opened six new representation offices in Russia, Germany, India, China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
New marketing efforts this year include the launch of Jewish Heritage Azerbaijan, a campaign to promote Jewish heritage experiences in Baku, Guba and Oguz, and the creation of azerbaijanwine.com to promote wine product and experiences.
The country also recently celebrated the inscription of the historic Silk Road city of Sheki on the Unesco World Heritage list. Sengstschmid said a new Mud Volcanoes Visitor Center opening in autumn next year aims to attract international arrivals while highlighting the country’s status as the mud volcano capital of the world.
In 2020, the tourist board will “expand its Experience Azerbaijan portfolio to the trade,” added Sengstschmid, organising a buyers’ conference for the first time, taking place in Baku at the end of April 2020 to “showcase the country and its experiences.”