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About Tourism in Azerbaijan



One of the most popular and wide-spread forms of recreation is tourism. Every year, thousands of people join to travel fans and thus tourism gets a wide scope. Tourism is not just the interest and fashion. It is vital demand that people get accustomed for the last 20-25 years.
Stages of the trade caravans in Azerbaijan in an ancient and Middle Ages 
First travels to Azerbaijan were related with trade, religious, political and comprehension purposes. Motions of trade caravans passing through the territory of ancient Azerbaijan can be considered as first travels.
Yet in ancient times Azerbaijan was known as a country of an important stop on the Great Silk Road. According to ancient authors the most active routes of the Great Silk Road passed through territory of Caucasian Albania (ancient state located in the territory of the preset Republic of Azerbaijan). According to Strabo, the great majority of Indian goods passed through the territory of Central Asian to Gurgan (Caspian) Sea and then through the sea to Albania and on Kir (Kura) River to Iberia (Eastern Georgia), then the Pont Evksinski (Black Sea). The important role of cities located on the route of Silk Road was noted.
Tabriz, Maraga, Ardabil, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Ordubad, Nuha (Sheki) became important centers of international trade on the route of the Silk Road in the north of Azerbaijan.

Stage from XIV century to the end of the XIX century
The role of Baku located in crossroads of marine routes and surface roads to from Russia to Iran and India in trade relations in the mid-fourteenth century between West and East, was great. The marine routes from White Sea through the Volga River to the Caspian Sea and then Volga-Caspian route leading to Iran and India caused the establishment of new caravanserais in Baku and their size was bigger than in the previous periods. Historians and travelers, who traveled Azerbaijan in different times, noted about it in their travel notes. At the moment from these Multanı (XII - XIV), Bukhara (XIV - XVI), Fars, Lezgin and others reached our days.
Notes in travel notes of travelers, merchants, diplomats (Marco Polo, Rui Gonzales Clakhvio, Afanasi Nikitin, Iosafat Barbaro, Ambrocco Contarini, Anthony Jankinson, Vincensi Alesandri, Sadko, Ovliya Chalabi, Fedor Kotov) visited Azerbaijan in different times shows that the history of our nation occupied the deserved place in the process of global historical progress. 

The stage of mass tourism at the end of the XIX century to the mid-XX century 
In the late XIX century and the beginning of the XX century in order to create comfort for guests in caravanserais of Baku the renovation work were carried in buildings of caravanserais and they were used as hotel. After becoming a part of the Russian empire, the development of the tourism – excursion work was connected with Russia. The history of organized tourism in Azerbaijan may be referred to 1908. Thus, in 1908 one of the branches of the Crimea - Caucasus mountain club was opened in Baku.  Baku section was engaged with organization of the remote and close excursions. At the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century, the scientific and amateur societies (Geographical society, society of lovers of nature, people\'s universities society and others) began to pay attention to development of tourism.  
Beginning from 1929 the Proletariat Tourism Society has become the main tourist movement center in the former USSR. Its sections began to establish in various cities, as well as in Baku. The main objectives of Proletariat Tourism Society are development of amateur tourism among workers, to give tourism the organized public form, application of country elements in tourism, etc. The main purpose of the society was to make the tourism as mass movement, to cover the different groups of workers (mainly with low income), to use tourism as a means of increase of political and cultural level.
In 1922 the first excursion circles were created in Baku. Excursions mainly used for acquaintances of workers working in the factory, plants and oil fields with other industrial sectors. In summer period recreation excursions were arranged to the Caspian coasts in Mardakan, Shuvalan, Buzovna, Turkan, Zig, Artyom Island and Shykh strip.  In 1927 450 excursion tours were arranged. During these years the most active entity engaged in the tourism excursion was Trade Unions.
In Azerbaijan PTEC (Proletariat Tourism and Tours Company)  functioning as section of all-union PTEC since 1929 began to operate under the  Central Executive Committee of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic  since the year 1935.   In this regard, by the decision of the Council of People\'s Commissars of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic dated May 11, 1935, No. 476 some measures were implemented for improvement of tourism business. In Kirovabad (Ganja) the base of District Council of the PTEC of Azerbaijan was created. In Hajikend 3 tourist center houses were taken in leasing. The 20-seat tent camp was established in Goygol.

Up to the period of independence (1950 - 1991)
To make travel and recreation of tourists interesting the horse riding and bicycling were arranged in tourist centers.
As in all the USSR during the years of the Second World War tourist excursion activities were cancelled.
During post-war years, sports, amateur, family and children tourism began to be a wide scoped. In September 1950 the tourist center has been created in Baku. At that time this tourist center was located in the recreation park named after Nizami.  In 1957 tourist centers were organized in Mingechevir and Hajıkend, too. Tourist centers began fucntioing in 1958 in Zagatala, in 1960 in Shusha and Goygol.
Tourism Excursion Department of Azerbaijan was named since 1962 as the Council of Tourism of the Azerbaijan Republic, and since 1969 as Council of Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Tourism Excursions. For organization of summer rest of Baku workers “Sputnik” tourist tent camp was established in 1962 with 150 people capacity in Nabran (Khachmaz region). In 1963 the tourist club in Baku, Khazar tourist center in Nabran, and in 1965 excursion bureaus in Baku, after two years in Ganja, Sumgait, in 1969 in Naftalan and Mardakan settlement of Baku were created. In 1970 in Zagatala and in 1972 in Shusha the new buildings of tourist centers and in 1975- in Gabala region of the Caucasus and Dostluq tourist center in Nabran , in the same year the Karabakh tourist hotel was put into operation. A little while ago excursion offices were opened in Khankendi (1971) and Mingechevir (1972).  
In subsequent years, in various regions of the republic; in 1978 in Nakhchivan the first tourism organization (Travel and Tours Office) was created. Years 1970 - 1987 are characterized by the development of social tourism perspective in the country. In order to expand material - technical base for foreign tourism in 1973 the largest hotel complex in the Republic of Azerbaijan hotel “Azerbaijan” was put into operation in Baku with 1942 beds. In 1978 the 200-seat comfortable “Moscow” Hotel has been added to the structure of Intourist joint-stock company.  Since 1929 the RTC became the country\'s main center of the tourist movement and its sections were opened in different cities, as well as in Baku.
According to the experts who are engaged in tourism development Azerbaijani tourism had achieved the highest level in 1987. In the same year, 50 thousand from foreign countries and 250 thousand tourists from different regions of the Soviet Union visited the republic. In view of increase of tourist flow in republic the construction of tourist hotels for 300 people in Lankaran and Mingechevir each, for 200 people in Shusha,  Garabagh tourist hotel in Baku was begun.
The year 1983 was most memorable in the development of tourism in the Republic of Azerbaijan. That year by initiative and leadership of the then First Deputy Chairman of the USSR Soviet of Ministers H. Aliyev on the shores of the Caspian Sea of Azerbaijan the relevant decision was adopted for creation of resort zones with all-union importance. After that, basing on decision of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated October 2,, 1984, No. 381, the scheme of tourism development in Azerbaijan republic was adopted.
In 1988 at result of events took place in the autonomous province of Nagorno-Karabakh and its adjacent territories the number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Azerbaijan was decreased considerably. Imposing of state of emergency in Khankendi, Shusha, Sumgait, and then in Baku in fact, led to freezing of activities of a number of tourism organizations in these regions of the republic. The hostile policy carried out by Armenians against Azerbaijanis, resulted in exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees from those areas. By the decision of the Government of the Republic the Azerbaijanis driven away from   Armenia in December of 1988 were accommodated in the tourist centers.

The post-independence stage 
All-union and international tourist routes functioned in Azerbaijan were cancelled since 1st quarter of 1990. The war and instable situation on borders led to occurrence of other problems in the system of tourism. For example, 2 of 10 tourism centers in the system of the trade unions left in the occupied territories and other places were accommodated with internally displaced persons. In September 1991 the department on foreign tourism was liquated and Foreign Tourism Council was established in its place under the auspices of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Only at the end of the 90-es the trends of tourism development were reflected in the legislative acts of the country.
Already at the beginning of the XXI century in Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan and other regions of the country modern hotels that can accommodate foreign guests operated. More than 100 tourism companies covering all regions of the republic are engaged in accommodation of foreign tourists and servicing local population with tourist services, and 149 hotels have been officially registered. The total amount of beds in those hotels is more than 5000. Private treatment and resort centers with modern level were given for use in the regions suitable for tourism and recreation. The number of foreign tourists visited the republic passed the 1 million people. 

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