By Amina Nazarli
Make your shopping lists ready, and get set to rock the most expected shopping event of the year. The first Baku Shopping festival is ready to charm shoppers this spring and you better be all geared up for it.
Baku is world-famous for its beauty, history, beaches, hotels, restaurants, skyscrapers and what not. The city is superlative in its every aspect and the Shopping festival will be a fine addiction to the long list of its attractions.
The city will host Shopping Festival twice every year, while the first Festival is scheduled for April 10 -May 10, said Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfaz Garayev.
Garayev, addressing a press conference on March 16, said that the first Shopping Festival will be held with the organizational support of Azerbaijan Convention Bureau and the Ministry.
He noted that the Baku Shopping Festival is the first experience in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
“Big countries form a tradition of a shopping festival, which contributes to the tourist flow. At festivals, tourists do not only do shopping, but also get acquainted with the historical monuments and culture of the country,” the minister said.
The Festival will allow returning money by 20-30-fold more than it will be invested in their organization, the minister said, adding that the payback of the project will grow in the future.
“The trading activity in the world ranks at 2nd-4th in the tourism market. Trade festivals increase the tourist flow by 30 percent,” he said, noting that the aim is not only increase the tourist flow, but also develop domestic tourism.
The Shopping Festival will not cover excise goods, gold, food and cars, but only production of light industry.
An official website of the festival bakushopfest.com has been created, which operates in four languages including Azerbaijani, Russian, English and Arabic. Entrepreneurs, who have registered on this website, will receive the status of a participant and get the opportunity to present their products to thousands of tourists and local citizens.
The minister further said that Tax-free system will be applied during the Baku Shopping Festival. Alongside foreigners, Azerbaijani citizens will also have a chance to benefit Tax-free system, which will be the first such practice.
Since application of the Tax Free system in Azerbaijan foreign tourists could get refund worth over 1 million manats ($583,333), said Sahib Alakbarov, the Deputy Taxes Minister.
Alakbarov, who addressed the press-conference, added that the total price of the goods from which VAT was withheld during this period amounted to 12 million manats ($7 million).
Tax-free shopping became available in the country from July 2016 after the adoption of the relevant law in the Parliament. And now while coming to Azerbaijan on a tourist visa, tourists can take advantage of Azerbaijan's tax- free system.
Foreign citizens can benefit from Tax Free system, if the cost of purchased goods per one e-tax invoice is not less than 300 manats ($181), including VAT. The goods should be taken out of Azerbaijan’s territory within 90 days from the date of purchase.
Currently, the Tax Free system does not apply to excisable goods and foodstuffs; medications and medical equipment; products, exempt from VAT in the country; goods which may require an export license; raw or ungraded precious gemstones; precious metal ingots; goods exported from the territory of Azerbaijan in an unaccompanied baggage; vehicles and spare parts; goods exported by mail or through the Internet.
In 2016 the number of tourists visiting the Land of Fire amounted to 2.242 million people and this is 11.7 percent more than in 2015. More than 300 hotels have been built in Azerbaijan since 2004 and the capital hosts the world’s leading hotel chain.