According to an article by Indian journalist Anurag Tiwari, Azerbaijan, a country in the South Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe, with the sole aim to establish its presence in the Indian travel market opted for organising the 3-city India ‘Discover Azerbaijan Roadshow’ in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad respectively from September 18 to 20, 2017: “The Mumbai roadshow held on September 18 saw participation from around 40 members of Mumbai travel trade who interacted with eight exhibitors which included Air Arabia, DMCs and hotels from Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The Mumbai roadshow saw participation from Boulevard Hotel Baku, Fairmont Hotel Baku, Gilan Hospitality, Millennium Tourism, Pasha Travel, Premium Tours and Sky Star Travel”.
Then the author tells about the opinions of the Regional General Manager: Sachin Nene, Regional General Manager – Air Arabia, India, said, “Azerbaijan is relatively new to Indians as a tourist destination. Through these roadshows our efforts have been centred towards reaching out to the best performing travel agents and tour operators across three cities and grow their knowledge about Azerbaijan. The destination needs a lot of promotional efforts like this to get itself acquainted with the Indian travel trade fraternity and thereby witness good number of Indian tourist.”
Ildirim Ganbarov, Business Development Manager, Pasha Travels, said, “Exhibitors from Azerbaijan focused on targeting not only the MICE traveller segment but also the leisure segment though MICE has been till now the best performing sectors from India. The exhibitors present at the roadshow not only showcased their product offerings in Baku, but also exhibited other destinations like Shabran, Guba, Shahdag, Shamakha, Qabala, Sheki, Ganja, Lankaran, Nakhichivan and Naftalan.”
The Indian market has been performing significantly well for Air Arabia as the airline is recording approximately 95% passenger load factor from this market across all 13 Indian cities from where the airline operates. Between April and August this year, Air Arabia recorded 850 passengers from India to Azerbaijan. Nene said that till now word of mouth publicity helped Air Arabia to record good number of passengers from the Indian market, and now with these roadshows we expect three to four fold increase in Indian passengers to Azerbaijan.
Nene said that for Air Arabia, 80% of the Indian travellers to Azerbaijan are from the MICE segment. These travellers also prefer to add sightseeing and nightlife in their itinerary when visiting Azerbaijan. Baku alone has around 14 hotels capable of hosting large MICE groups, some of them accommodating more than 1,000 guests and organising big conventions all year round. The capital city of Azerbaijan also has five Indian restaurants. Azerbaijan Tourism Authorities are working towards engagement with members of travel trade and media through FAM trips and is also looking at attracting the film producers to the destination. For 94 nationalities including India e-visa is issued which is valid for 90 days. Also, the destination is working with other neighbouring countries like Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan to jointly promote the destinations across the globe.
“Baku has a lot to offer to Indians in terms of MICE and also leisure. We are concentrating our efforts on promoting destinations in Azerbaijan as well but our prime focus remains on Baku. We are working towards tie-ups with Cox & Kings, SOTC, Thomas Cook, etc., to target the leisure traveller segment from the Indian market next year. India is an emerging market for Azerbaijan and we are hopeful that our promotional efforts will help us establish Azerbaijan as a prominent destination for the Indian travellers,” Nene concluded.