9th Azerbaijan International
Travel and Tourism Fair
Post show Release
The 9th Azerbaijan International Tourism and Travel Fair (AITF) opened on 28 April at the Heydar Aliyev Sports and Concert Complex. The show is officially supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Azerbaijan Tourism Association, and the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs’ (Employers’) Organisation of the Azerbaijan Republic.
Partners for the exhibition included Azerfon-Vodafone, Paşa Sığorta, Caspel, SIAR, KREA and Ńaucas Point Hotel.
AITF 2010 will be remembered as contributing to a new era in Azerbaijan’s tourism industry. President Ilham Aliyev, accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Abulfaz Garayev, toured the exhibition and visited regional stands, which demonstrated exciting new travel opportunities throughout Azerbaijan. The President took particular interest in the stands of the Stavropol Territory, Turkey, Greece, India and Egypt. The President received a commemorative gift from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s stand.
Other important guests at the exhibition included the Governor of the Stavropol Region, the General Secretary of the Greek Office of Tourism and Culture, the Head of the Indian Tourism Organisation and representatives from the embassies of Greece, India, Turkey, Russia and other countries that participated in the exhibition.
The exhibition’s slogan was ‘Visit the world at AITF’ and its significance for the industry was confirmed by a 20% increase in size and the participation of 179 companies from 24 countries. In total, 33 destinations were represented at the event, including Austria, Belarus, China, Germany, Italy, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Ukraine, France and Switzerland. 14 countries had national group stand at the event, including regular exhibitors such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Malaysia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic, as well as newcomers including Egypt, India, Italy (Lazio Region, Rome), Mauritius, the UAE and Russia.
Turkey was AITF’s first partner country this year and a number of events were organised for both visitors and exhibitors, including a raffle for holidays and a performance by a Turkish folk group. Dr. Aytekin Yilmaz, Counsellor for Cultural and Information Affairs of the Turkish Embassy in Azerbaijan, commented, “In terms of presenting our country’s tourism potential, we believe the Caucasus and Central Asia are immensely important and very promising. Of course, from this viewpoint, Azerbaijan is the most profitable and stable choice of partner. This is why, for the second year, we are participating in AITF. This was the first time that we participated as partner country”.
One of the major attractions at this year’s event was a programme of activities organised by the large tour operators seeking to combine the benefits of outbound tourism with the potential for inbound tourism. Director of the National Tourist Office of the Czech Republic, Pavel Franek, was keen to cooperate with Azerbaijan, “We seek a permanent partnership with your country to increase the flow of tourists not only from Azerbaijan to the Czech Republic, but also from the Czech Republic to Azerbaijan”.
An exotic experience entitled ‘Island Paradise’ was presented by companies from Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Thailand. The Stavropol stand promoted trips to resorts such as Yessentuki, Zheleznovodsk, Kislovodsk, Mineral Waters and Pyatiqorsk, which are famous for their unique treatments. For the first time, Russian tour operators offered tours in St. Petersburg. Ukrainian companies also took part in the exhibition, offering not only the Black Sea resorts, but also the spa resorts in Truskavetsk and other cities.
Gamigaya has a large stand which immediately attracted visitors’ attention, offering national beverages, amusing songs and live music. Some visitors were even tempted to dance. The demonstration was energising and left visitors with a positive feeling. Visitors really felt they were abroad.
Egypt and Istanbul presented grand and attractive stands, inspired by palace gates, that welcomed visitors. Meanwhile, Thailand, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Georgia and India competed on the sheer numbers of travel offers they featured. Visitors demonstrated a keen interest in business and medical tourism, user-friendly insurance, exotic tours and luxury travel. Participants were also happy, stressing the effectiveness of their participation.
The press played a major role in attracting visitor attention. There were 17 stands in the ‘Media Corner’, from AITF’s media partners. In particular, AzerOlimpik International’s handbooks on Azerbaijan were very popular.
The First Azerbaijani Regional Tourism Exhibition was held alongside AITF, demonstrating the extensive domestic tourism sector in Azerbaijan. One pavilion was dedicated to recreation areas, resorts and hotels. Visitors were able to experience the natural colour of Azerbaijan’s regions and familiarise themselves with the country’s rich folklore, national dishes and traditions.
There was an interesting programme of events, consisting of workshops, master classes, presentations and other activities. Traditionally, the exhibition attracts a huge audience of professionals, helping to increase awareness and enhance sales to popular destinations. During the exhibition, there were seminars entitled ‘Tours to Israel. Recreation in the Red, Mediterranean and Dead Sea Resorts’, ‘Let’s go to Dubai’, ‘Italy is not just a Country, it’s a whole world’ and ‘How to sell Switzerland’. Experts from abroad spoke about the characteristics in these four areas of the tourism business. Approximately half of the visitors were interested in consulting services. The launch of the Baku-Crete flight route was timed to coincide with the exhibition and was announced on the SW Travel stands. This was the result of a great deal of hard work and cooperation, and will cater for an increasing flow of Azerbaijani tourists to Greece. India promoted its colourful folklore, whilst one lucky visitor won a stay at the Kremlin Hotel in Turkey as a guest of Zenit Tour.
Each stand at the exhibition not only promoted products but also helped to increase the profile of the tourism industry.
Internet provider, Az.StarNet organised wireless internet access for visitors, which meant that visitors could tour Baku without even leaving the show. During the exhibitions, visitors were also offered guided tours through Baku’s famous attractions via a collection of photographs.
The innovative design of exhibitors’ stands and their hard work was testament to the amount of preparation they had done for the exhibition. Awards and certificates were handed to some companies following a survey of visitors conducted by SIAR marketing company. Winners included AZAL (most creative design), the Greek national stands (best newcomer) and the Turkish national stand (best stand).
The exhibition was busy every day. 72% of the visitors were tourist industry professionals. There were more visitors on the first day of the show than in 2009 and total attendance over the three days reached over 10,000 people, which represents a 20% growth. Exhibitors reported an average of 7-8 meetings per day with potential partners, which culminated in signing contracts or generating potential cooperation in the future. This means that over 2000 important meetings took place during the event, which will strengthen our country’s bonds with other parts of the globe.
This year, for the first time, AITF was audited by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI). The show joins Caspian Oil and Gas, BakuBuild, World Food Azerbaijan, BIHE, BakuTel and AutoShow Azerbaijan, which have been audited annually for several years.
HOREX 2010, the 4th Caucasian International Exhibition for the Hotel, Restaurant and Supermarket industry, took place alongside AITF this year. The event demonstrated complex equipment for hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and kitchens, as well as vending machines, fast-food systems and furniture. This is the only event in the region where industry professionals meet annually to seek new opportunities and forge new partnerships. Well-known brands at the show included: National, Tolkar, Zanussi, Electrolux, Ratondi, Scotshmann and Winterhalter.
AITF 2010 met the organiser’s expectations and marked a new chapter in the history of international tourism. Major achievements for the show were the large number of participants who arrived despite the global economic crisis and, of course, President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to the exhibition, which was proof of the event’s contribution to best practice with regard to globalisation and economic stability. The country’s leader spared time for the AITF 2010 participants, showed an interest in the development of tourism abroad and wished them every success.
The exhibition provides a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, ideal for conducting business, and brought the right people to the right place.
In 2011, the exhibition will celebrate its 10th anniversary and a special commemorative programme will accompany the event.