The traditional trade events of the tourism industry – the Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair, AITF 2013, and the 7th Caucasus International Hospitality Fair, Horex Caucasus 2013 – opened on 4 April at Baku Expo Centre exhibition complex. For over 12 years, AITF has been identifying the trends and ways of development in recreation and travel in the region, setting the tone for a successful year in the tourism sector, and serving as one of the drivers of future growth of the sector. Since its foundation AITF has been conducted with the active support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. AITF’s international prestige is confirmed by the support given from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the International Tourism Trade Fairs Association (ITTFA). The exhibition is also supported by AzPromo and the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs’ (Employers’) Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The exhibition has received the recognition of the international exhibition community through the approval of UFI (the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry).
The official opening ceremony was attended by the Minister for Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Abulfaz Garayev, and the Executive Director of ITE Group, Mr Edward Strachan.
In his speech, the minister said that the growing number of exhibitors demonstrated the continued development of tourism in Azerbaijan, and the increased attention paid to Azerbaijan by the world’s leading tour operators. “AITF 2013 aptly reflects the development of tourism throughout the whole of Azerbaijan, and it is no coincidence that the exhibition includes stands from 22 regions of the country with their own tourism offers, each demonstrating the potential for hotels, recreation zones holiday hotels and health resorts.” The Minister noted that the prestige of the exhibition is growing daily. At this exhibition, meetings are held, cooperation agreements signed, and new programmes and prices announced.
Mr Edward Strachan , Regional Director of ITE Group plc, on welcoming the participants of the exhibition, said that AITF 2013 would kick-start the tourist season in Azerbaijan, which was a great way to revitalize the many tour companies in the hotel and service industries. The size of the trade event for the hotel and restaurant industry, Horex Caucasus 2013, which is of great interest to many professionals and business people in the hotel industry, has also increased.
The VIP tour of the exhibition stands was joined by the Minister for Resorts and Tourism of Crimea, Alexander Liev, and the Minister for Resorts and Tourism of the Stavropol Region, Valentina Chentsova, as well as extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors, participants, visitors and media representatives.
The second day of AITF 2013 and HOREX Caucasus 2013 was marked by a visit from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Baku Expo Centre. The President viewed the displays from the world’s leading tour operators, international airlines, and manufacturers of equipment for hotels and restaurants, as well as becoming acquainted with the displays from the regions of Azerbaijan. Foreign exhibitors demonstrated to the President the potential of their countries, which are seeking to establish steady business relations with Azerbaijan in the fields of tourism, information and cultural exchange.
251 companies from 35 countries, representing a wide range of tourist services with an emphasis on contemporary trends, were involved in AITF 2013. This year, there were 20 national stands, including those from permanent participants such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey and Egypt. At the same time, the exhibition clearly demonstrated to its foreign participants the rich tourism potential of Azerbaijan, serving to promote our country as an excellent tourist destination and opening up new horizons for the 2013 tourist season.
The main sections of the exhibition covered airlines, tour operators, hotels, health centres, companies specialized in adventure travel, business travel, sports, eco-tourism, luxury holidays, and implementation of Medical Tourism. An innovation this year was the introduction of a new section entitled “Real Estate Abroad”.
HOREX Caucasus 2013 involved 30 companies displaying their products for the hotel and restaurant businesses and other commercial enterprises. The exhibition has grown by 40% compared to last year and included the following sections: textile design and different interior decoration solutions; hotel cosmetics and perfumery; equipment for professional kitchens from five star restaurants to fast food businesses; restaurant (dining) crockery and glassware; cleaners and modern cleaning equipment; software management for chain restaurants, supermarket equipment and so on.
Bilateral meetings were held between representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and representatives of the line ministries of Stavropol and Crimea, workshops took place, and a twinning-project with the European Union entitled “Capacity building in the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan” was unveiled on the first day of the exhibition. Participants used the exhibition to announce new flight routes and rebate programs, and to give presentations about tourist destinations.