By Amina Nazarli
Regional neighbors- Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan - will launch a joint pilot tourist product “Great Silk Road” this April.
Marat Igaliyev, Director of the Tourism Department at the Kazakh Ministry for Investments and Development announced that the project will be realized within the framework of the Turkic Council.
This issue was discussed at the 7th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers' Meeting at ITB in Berlin, he wrote on his Facebook page.
The route that will be jointly developed and promoted will take 12 days, according to Igaliyev.
The Great Silk Road bringing together two different worlds – the East and the West- could not but leave a trace in the history of political, economic and cultural development of the countries through which it passed. Travelers, merchants and missionaries exchanged cultural, scientific, educational and spiritual values.
Azerbaijan was on the path of this Road and made a significant contribution to the development of this global transit network. Bilateral land and sea routes linked Azerbaijan with China, Syria, India, Asia Minor, Iran, Egypt, Russia, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Europe.
Situated on the Great Silk Road, and divided partially between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Azerbaijan blended the best from both cultures, forming its own unique rich culture, that’s why its people are neither totally Eastern, nor totally Western.
The Silk Road in Azerbaijan passes several cities and settlements in the north-western direction, including, Baku, Shamakhi, Basgal, Lagich, Gabala, Sheki and others.
Today tourism is developing with high speed in Azerbaijan, with a contribution of 4.5 percent to the national GDP. The country witnesses more than 2 million annual foreign tourist arrivals and thousands of domestic tourism visits.
After simplification of the visa procedure and issuing them in the national airports for citizens from Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore in 2016 the flow of tourists from these directions increased.
One of Azerbaijan’s strongest assets for tourism development is its service culture – Azerbaijanis are famous for their hospitality. This culture is best reflected in the hotel and restaurant sectors.
There are more than 500 hotels in Azerbaijan, while the capital hosts the world’s leading hotel chains. Last year, 35 hotels were built in the country, while 25 are under construction.