On Azal’s Baku-Delhi flight scheduled from later this month: “For now we are starting with twice weekly. But I do believe that very soon it can even become a daily flight. There is tremendous potential on the route” – Asgarov
A new entrant to the competitive Indian outbound travel market, Azerbaijan has witnessed some incredible growth in Indian visitor arrivals the last few years, sans the pandemic disrupted 2020 and 2021. The NTO entered the Indian market riding on a staggering almost 180 per cent growth in 2018 recording close to 40,000 Indian arrivals that year. And now with the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing travel restrictions on the wane, the tourism board is keen to rebuild its Indian numbers and further grow from there.
The country was in full force at the recently concluded South Asia’s biggest travel exhibition SATTE, showcasing its destinations and offerings to Indian buyers at the event. The NTO was particularly upbeat about the direct flight connectivity on Baku-Delhi route that is likely to go operational on June 28, and filling a key gap in the NTO’s source market development efforts in India.
Speaking with TravelBiz Monitor on the sidelines of SATTE, Bahruz Asgarov, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), said, “We continue seeing great interest for Azerbaijan and we do believe that there is a great potential that we still need to tap. And for this reason, starting from end of June Azerbaijani flag carrier, Azerbaijan Airlines (Azal) will be flying to India, Baku – Delhi route. For now we are starting with twice weekly. But I do believe that very soon it can even become a daily flight. There is tremendous potential on the route.”
Azal has recently appointed STIC GSA Services Pvt. Ltd. as its exclusive sales representative for India. The Azeri national carrier, based in Baku, operates to over 40 destinations in 25 countries across Asia, the CIS, Europe and the USA. Its Baku-Delhi service is likely to begin from June 28.
Furthermore, highlighting India’s growing profile as a source market for Azerbaijan, Asgarov informed, “As a tourism board we launched Azerbaijan as a destination in India in 2019 with SATTE. Since then we have received amazing feedback and numbers. Within a year we have had more than 60 per cent increase in number of arrivals (from India) to Azerbaijan. We finished the year (2019) with 65,000 travellers from India.”
Azerbaijan received 3.2 million international visitors in 2019 with India featuring not only as one of Azerbaijan’s fastest growing source markets, but also amongst its top markets. Pre-pandemic, Indian arrivals to Azerbaijan grew by about a robust 67 per cent in 2019.
Commenting on the ease of travel in the post-pandemic normal, the ATB Deputy CEO said, “Since February this year, we have the borders open and it’s very easy to travel to Azerbaijan. You only need your Visa which is fairly easy to get. From e-Visa portal you get your visa either within three days or within three hours depending on option you choose. And apart from that you only need your vaccination certificate or certificate of recovery, and you are good to come to Baku. Once you enter the country there are no restrictions and you are free to enjoy and experience the destination.”