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Tourism Recovery Townhall series, is a digital virtual platform, to provide a unique opportunity to governments around the world, their tourism leaders on the frontline of the recovery from COVID 19, heads of Tourism boards as well as CVBs, to talk about and share their expertise in managing crisis, and how their winning strategies will help countries come out stronger.

World Tourism Forum Institute CEO Sumaira Isaacs speaks to the CEO of Azerbaijan Tourism Board, Florian Sengstschmid, in the 5th Edition of the World Tourism Forum Town Hall series.

Florian Sengstschmid reckons that 2019 was a fantastic year for Azerbaijan, with a number of 3.2 million visitors to the country. He also added that the first two months of 2020 was also auspicious. Key target markets were growing when the Covid-19 hit the world. As a result, the country’s numbers and figures dropped more than 19% in comparison to 2019.

Sengstschmid also highlighted, “Azerbaijan quickly came up with a recovery plan. As the life starts to get back to normal, we are putting forward the domestic travel like other nations, to make people see the undiscovered beauties of the country and build travel corridors to make people travel to different countries within the region. ”

“Today, the focus is on domestic travel. I am realistic to see that the first quarter of 2021 will be the opening of international markets. Until then, domestic and regional travel, business travel, and small business events will take their parts at the beginning of 2021.”

Sengstschmid says Russia, Georgia, Turkey, GCC, India, Pakistan, Japan, and South Korea are the largest markets for Azerbaijan. In mid-June, domestic travel will begin. At the end of June, Sengstschmid hopes to see the international routes are opening. Azerbaijan’s leading international carriers are Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Lufthansa. But as per Sengstschmid’s anticipation, these carriers will carry 20-25% off the original volume.

Sengstschmid sees that Azerbaijan is one of the first countries which closed its borders and looked at the situation domestically. This helped country to take disease under control with a small number of cases. As Azerbaijan looked at the situation at a domestic level, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board started to work on how to restore the confidence of travelers? As a result, the SAHMAN program, which means tidiness in Azerbaijani and the abbreviation of Sanitation and Hygiene Methods and Norms in English, launched.

“SAHMAN is an example of the Azerbaijani government’s proactive approach to protecting the health of visitors. The program calls upon the tourism stakeholders to embrace a set of sanitation and hygiene recommendations as preventive measures to safeguard tourists against respiratory diseases – as a result of the COVID-19 breakout and also as a good practice. The goal is to reinforce sanitation and hygiene across the country’s tourism industry and make Azerbaijan a safe tourism destination, as perceived by both local and international audiences. Local tourism industry representatives joining SAHMAN are required to accept a duty of compliance with the program requirements, which are added to the existing standards established by the respective public authorities in Azerbaijan. SAHMAN is built on the core principles of safety, multi-stakeholder cooperation, transparency, social responsibility, fairness, justice, and inclusiveness, while ensuring the involvement of all relevant partners, both public and private, through a sector-wide holistic approach. The Sanitation and Hygiene Methods and Norms process stages are as follows: Registration on the program website, enrollment in online training, successful completion of the training and getting a SAHMAN manager certificate, confirmation of compliance with the norms, online and onsite monitoring.”

From the perspective of being partners with other nations to guide them, “There is an opportunity out of every crisis. Our opportunity has become to improve our services and ourselves. After becoming better in terms of service quality, we shifted our focus on the creation of a learning center. We have combined different resources and all the knowledge to build a new training center. As soon as the borders are open, we are ready to show visitors the palette of our experiences.”

About World Tourism Forum Institute

As the leading international tourism development and investment brand, World Tourism Forum Institute is a London, UK-based organization committed to promoting developing countries in the field of tourism development, economic growth, foreign direct investment through tourism investments, and human resource development in the industry.

To learn more about World Tourism Forum Institute, please visit: https://worldtourismforum.net/

About Azerbaijan Tourism Board

As the official tourism board of Azerbaijan, ATB’s role is to showcase the country’s hidden gems and enhance its destination value to a global audience. Its global campaign ‘Take Another Look’ invites travelers to experience Azerbaijan from a unique perspective while

discovering its untold stories and secrets. Azerbaijan has nine of the world’s eleven climate zones at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, offering travelers a European experience all year round. With high-profile sporting events, varied hospitality offerings that range from luxury collections to B&Bs; a vibrant gastronomical experience; spectacular landscapes including summer countryside and winter ski slopes; adventure trails; and cultural events; Azerbaijan is in an excellent position to cater to high volumes of tourists seeking authentic local experiences.

To learn more about Azerbaijan Tourism Board, please visit: https://www.tourismboard.az/

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