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AITF 2014: the main tourism event in the Caspian Region
Today at Baku Expo Centre the largest trade event in the tourism industry of Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus region, the 13th Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair, AITF 2014, opened. The exhibition is organized by Iteca Caspian LLC and its partner, ITE Group plc.
The focused policy of the President has ensured the successful implementation of state programmes to attract the world's major investment companies to the country, ensuring business development and supporting private sector companies engaged in tourism and the construction of a luxury tourism destination. This was noted at the opening ceremony by Minister for Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Abulfas Garayev, who also observed that the holding in Baku of the 57th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe underlines the prestige of Azerbaijan, and certainly the significance of AITF 2014. The status of the exhibition is evidenced by its growth: today at AITF 351 companies and organizations from 38 countries worldwide are participating. This is the most respectable and prestigious event in the sphere of tourism in the whole Caspian region.
Speaking at the opening of AITF, UNWTO Secretary-General Mr Taleb Rifai stressed the importance of meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to discuss the development of tourism in the country and the priority areas in the non-oil sector of the economy. Mr Rifai noted the success of the introduction of e-visa, and talked about the attractive image of Azerbaijan in terms of tourism, which will be further enhanced by future projects in Baku, like the European Olympic Games, the Islamic Solidarity Games, the Chess Olympiad and other international events.
Executive Director of ITE Group (UK) Mr Edward Strachan reported that, according to the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), in 2013 the exhibition had the highest proportion of professional visitors - 79%. The experienced British expert expects at least the same figures this year.
AITF brightly opens the spring exhibition season in Azerbaijan and delights visitors with its variety of tourism offers. The lively representatives and generously equipped stands marked the opening of the exhibition with folk dances, original presentations and tasting sessions for national cuisines, thus demonstrating their goodwill and pleasure at meeting the first visitors.
This year the exhibition has broken its own records for the composition of exhibitors. AITF 2014 includes tour operators and travel agents, luxury tourism, hotels, adventure holidays, luxury holidays and business travel, as well as sporting, ecological and educational tourism offers. Every visitor, be that a tourist industry specialist or an entrepreneur, will find opportunities for business meetings, as well as opportunities to assess the innovations of their business colleagues. Organizers set Saturday as the last day of the exhibition to allow exhibitors to increase the time they have to communicate with end users.
The exhibition successfully combines the announcement of exciting destinations and presentations of market innovations with a wide range of tourist services from national groups; international offices; land, air and sea carriers; representatives of the hotel industry from different countries; and travel and trade associations. Great interest has been shown in the Real Estate Abroad and Medical Tourism sectors. These new directions are represented by private and public clinics and diagnostic centres in Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Russia, Lithuania, Greece and Cyprus.
One of the most interesting and colourful events of the exhibition is the large display from the Azerbaijani regions. Here there are opportunities to undertake a variety of tourism activities, including rural and ecological tourism, rafting, and skiing and coastal holidays. In the regional exposition 22 regions of Azerbaijan and about 60 hotels are participating, including some global hotel chains.
Since its foundation, AITF has had the active support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, and the patronage of UNWTO, the Association of International Tourism Trade and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation and the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs’ (Employers) Association of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The exhibition has been awarded the mark of quality from UFI.