Cinema tourism playing a profound role in Azerbaijan’s rise as a tourist hotspot, says envoy Ashraf Shikhaliyev

Addressing a packed house of stakeholders representing the outbound business, Ashraf Shikhaliyev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to India, suggested that the European nation was gaining a never before exposure among global travellers. He insisted that cinema shoots in the country was playing a profound role in establishing the European country as a tourist hotspot among Indian travellers. Excerpts from his address at the recently concluded BITB India Outbound Summit:

Azerbaijan had taken giant strides in gaining the attention of the Indian traveller, said ambassador Ashraf Shikhaliyev. He said that there had been a “drastic growth in tourist numbers” from Indian shores, which had taken place in a very short span of time. “Sometimes, trends emerge from nowhere and a small country with a population of 10 million emerges as a tourist hotspot,” he said, inferring to the dramatic rise of Azerbaijan as a tourist hotspot. He informed that the country had witnessed a 75 per cent rise increase in tourists from India in 2017-18 and expected the increase in tourist count to continue on similar lines.

 Formula1 races hosted in Baku were distinct, he said, sharing that races were being organised on streets of the city and several cinema-makers from India and abroad had captured those elements through their movies. He said that such a media propagation had worked wonders for the destination.

He insisted that Indian cinema was being lapped up by the local populace and cinema shoots were playing a vital role in establishing the country as a desirable destination for the Indian outbound.

He further suggested that the country was keen on having more Indian hotels in Azerbaijan to “ensure that Indian visitors felt at home.” He invited Indian hotel companies to explore the possibility of setting up a base in the country and assured stakeholders of all possible support in the same. He added that while his country was  essentially a European nation, it was “truly Asian in its hospitality.”

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