Author: Nurlana GULIYEVA
Take Another Look is the new tourism slogan of Azerbaijan supposed to encourage travellers visit the Land of Fire more than before and with each visit open new opportunities for interesting holidays.
For hundreds of years, coat of arms, flag, and anthem of Azerbaijan were the visual and verbal attributes symbolising its statehood. Recently, another symbol has been added to this pool - a brand new logo to promote the tourism potential of the country. Correct positioning will help to form the desired image in the mind of tourists.
Azerbaijan had its own tourist brand. Nevertheless, the substantial growth of the tourist potential in recent years and the possibilities for its development have urged the creation of a new, more modern symbol. The new brand was introduced in October as part of the first national tourism summit.
Take Another Look
The marketing manager of the Tourism Bureau, Fidan Aliyeva, presented the new national tourism brand of Azerbaijan. According to her, it was created with the participation of local and foreign experts. The world-famous company Landor Associates, which for many years has been shaping the brands of many developed and developing countries of the world, corporations and worldwide events, was chosen to make the logo. The international presentation of the new tourist brand of Azerbaijan will be held in November as part of the World Tourism Market in London (London WTM).
F. Aliyeva said that a study-survey was conducted with the participation of more than a hundred specialists from various industries, and the brand preparation process itself lasted five months. The new logo is the first letter in the word Azerbaijan, combining nature and art. The Maiden Tower and the Heydar Aliyev Centre, the Garabagh horse and national ornament, a footpath in the Ismailli forest and a cobbled street in Baku successfully combined in the logo. The new brand will be presented at all tourist facilities in Azerbaijan including the souvenirs and print media.
According to the Chairman of the State Agency for Tourism (SAT) Fuad Naghiyev, Azerbaijan needed a brand, a trademark under which our country will position the full range of tourism goods and services in the coming years, for the tourism has been set as a priority for the development of the national economy.
The new brand has caused mixed opinions among the experts but in general, the representatives of the tourism industry agreed that the concept is quite interesting. As for the slogan, Land of Fire, foreign tourists associated it with a certain danger implying a negative connotation, albeit it is a traditional slogan for Azerbaijanis. The new slogan embodies the aspirations of the tourism industry in the country to encourage repeated tourist visits to Azerbaijan.
Twice as more tourists in five years
The summit also presented a rather ambitious strategy for the development of the industry until 2023. The objective is to double the rate of tourist flow to the country over a specified period. The presentation was held by the Executive Director of the Tourism Bureau of Azerbaijan, Florian Sengstschmid, who said that the strategy covers nine areas, including the development of tourism policy, researches, introduction of innovative technologies, definition of legal frameworks and taxation, infrastructure development, etc.
The program also identifies 18 priority markets to attract tourists to Azerbaijan in the coming years: the countries of the Persian Gulf, China, Japan, Korea, the states of Western Europe, Israel, as well as our neighbours. “In the near future, official tourist representative offices of Azerbaijan will be opened in Georgia, India, Saudi Arabia and Russia. It is planned to radically reconstruct the tourist infrastructure in the regions - from sanitary facilities, roads, recreation areas, hotels, etc. Tourism centres will be opened in the most popular regions of the country including Sheki, Guba, Gusar,” Sengstschmid said.
To make the experience of tourists more interesting and richer and to give them a chance to fully get to know the ancient history and original culture of Azerbaijan, a number of activities are planned in the country's reserves. For example, an exhibition centre will be opened in the Yanardagh reserve, and a new project will start in the village of Basgal, which will tell the whole world about this unique historical place where the national headdress Kalaghai is produced. This is only the scale of two projects of seven submitted for review of the State Agency for Tourism. In general, it is planned to build a new model of management to make the transit from state funded tourism to private funded one.
In addition, the strategy assumes the intensive development of certain areas of the tourism industry, in particular food tourism, health tourism, eco-tourism, etc. Thus, therapeutic thermal waters in the southern part of the country have encouraged the creation of a new modern health centre with a hotel, a medical centre and various thermal baths. President Ilham Aliyev recently attended the opening of the centre. Also very popular for medical tourism centres with developed infrastructure already exist in Nakhchivan and Naftalan.
According to Sengstschmid, the objective is to make Azerbaijan one of the most popular countries in the world.
The chairman of the State Agency for Tourism Fuad Naghiyev believes that with the full implementation of plans over the next ten years, it is possible to increase the tourism share of GDP by 10%. “We will promote a healthy competitive environment. It will increase the efficiency of all involved structures, will lead to the establishment of optimal prices, improve the quality of services. We support public initiatives and we believe that public control and public assistance are necessary for the market,” he said.
The main problem of Azerbaijan's tourism sector is the shortage of accommodation facilities given the growing flow of tourists, especially the economy class facilities with an affordable price tag, as well as the low level of services in a number of catering facilities, and the lack of qualified and trained personnel.
In fact, the work is ongoing in almost all of the structures at least somehow involved in the tourist industry. Thus, SAT is developing a mechanism to encourage the construction of hotels of different categories, hostels, etc. It is also planned to create a separate association uniting hotels and hotel-type objects. Moreover, Azerbaijan intends to be a member of the European Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes (HOTREC-Hospitality Europe), which for many years has been implementing world standards in this area, including rating of hotels. According to Naghiyev, the activities of the Association of Guides of Azerbaijan are also of great importance. “This is very important, because, firstly, there is a shortage of personnel in this area, and secondly, tourists often receive unprofessional and even unverified and false information about Azerbaijan,” he said.
As for human resources, the existing special educational facilities fail to meet the growing demand in this area. Serious reforms are also planned in this direction.
The most important thing is that problems are recognised and researched at the state level. So, let us hope that these problems will be eliminated soon.