The historical, cultural and natural heritage of Azerbaijan should be shared with the rest of the world, UN World Tourism Organization Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
“Azerbaijan is full of treasures, both of tangible and intangible nature. I believe that there is a strong potential in tourism development by marketing the authenticity, traditions and multiculturalism of the country together with its unique landscapes. The historical, cultural and natural heritage of Azerbaijan should be shared with the rest of the world,” he said.
Pololikashvili noted that tourism development is about continuous innovation but also about identifying and marketing the uniqueness of a destination.
“In that regard, I believe that promoting those values that Azerbaijan has, particularly in those emerging markets that are not that familiar with the Caucasus and the Caspian region, can bring many opportunities,” he said.
Touching upon improving the position of the countries’ tourism destinations, he said there are different mechanisms and dynamics and each destination should identify the most suitable ones.
“In general, improving competitiveness through quality and service, defending the authenticity of the destination and developing promotional strategies in different markets are used in positioning a destination. Tourism today is about experiences and this product development should be oriented to experiences, such as gastronomy, culture, arts and others,” Pololikashvili said.
He further stressed that rail tourism is receiving increasing interest everywhere, because the traveler sees him/herself as an adventurer and also because the train is a perfect sustainable means of transport linking transnational routes, a growing phenomenon in the tourism sector.
“Eurorail, for instance, has been a great opportunity and has contributed not only to open possibilities but also to change the mindset of many travelers. The particular geostrategic location of Azerbaijan would add value to further development of train tourism in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey through Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway that was opened on October 30, 2017,” he said, stressing that this will be an additional opportunity to attract long-haul and high-yield visitors from source markets.
Asked about prospects of marine tourism in the Caspian, he said the Caspian links five countries, many cultures and traditions, and therefore holds a tremendous potential for tourism development and product innovation, which is not possible without regional cooperation, “especially when we speak about cruise tourism as a catalyst to further transform the tourism assets in the region.”