Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has collaborated with Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) to invite travellers from the GCC to take another look at Azerbaijan and experience its wide array of sights and activities.
Azerbaijan is one of the top 3 destinations in Europe for MENA-based travellers. A safe and family-friendly place that has attracted as many as 1.4 million tourists in the first half of 2019, Azerbaijan is the perfect scenic getaway for enjoying a plush European experience at a very affordable price.
Azerbaijan is growing quickly into one of the world’s most exciting emerging holiday destinations. Inviting all GCC residents with a visa on arrival, there has been a growing demand to increase direct flights from the Middle East. Many airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia have expanded their services to the capital city of Baku, as well as Gabala, a beautiful city in northern Azerbaijan. Recently, an increase in the influx of Arab tourists has been witnessed since Flynas, Saudi Arabia’s low-cost airline, announced new routes to Baku.
Florian Sengstschmid, CEO of Azerbaijan Tourism Board, said: “We are delighted to start this joint collaboration with Wego to raise awareness about what Azerbaijan has to offer all types of travellers from the GCC countries. Located on the border of Europe and Asia, our country is a true blend of the best of East and West, with so many unique opportunities for unforgettable experiences and adventures. We have everything from ancient crafts and culture to UNESCO heritage sites and breathtaking mountain and sea landscapes. Azerbaijan has been delighted to witness a huge growth in the number of visitors from the Middle East in recent years and we hope this WEGO partnership will enable us to welcome masses more in the future.”
Wego will be promoting Baku’s key unique attractions and experiences such as the Ateshgah Fire Temple and the Flame Towers, representing the natural fires once worshipped by Zoroastrians. These must-see places have helped tourism in Azerbaijan to blossom in recent years - the country welcomed over 200,000 GCC tourists in 2018, resulting in a 30% increase compared to the previous year.
Actively promoting halal tourism, this modern European country caters to all Arabian Gulf visitors wishing to practise their religion even while holidaying. Visiting markets and tasting fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farms is a unique experience while holidaying in Azerbaijan.
Mamoun Hmedan, Managing Director, MENA and India, Wego, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Azerbaijan Tourism Board to promote this country that is among the top 3 destinations for MENA travellers. In 2019, we have seen an increase of 60 % in the number of searches to Azerbaijan by GCC travellers compared to the same period in 2018. Short-duration flights from the MENA region and the visa-on-arrival initiative for GCC residents have encouraged more tourists to visit and admire the country’s rich and ancient cultural heritage. Azerbaijan lures tourists throughout the year, having nine of the world’s eleven climatic zones and activities all year round for all types of holidaymakers.”
While relaxed vacationers can enjoy the summer countryside of Gabala and the crafts village of Lahij, adventure junkies can trek to the UNESCO heritage site of Gobustan National Park to see the prehistoric rock carvings. Meanwhile, travellers can marvel at Baku’s skyline, adorned with a mix of buildings in Gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau-styles, and enjoy the city’s lively squares, theatres, markets and malls, not to mention the vibrant nightlife. One shouldn’t leave without shopping for the country’s exquisite carpets, whose rich colours and wonderfully intricate designs make them both a valuable asset and a worthwhile investment.
In recent years this Caucasus country has attracted millions of sports fans by hosting international events such as the European Games, Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and UEFA Europa League Final in 2019, all of which have helped to improve services and infrastructure and build an identity around tourism in the country.