Leading travel exhibition of the region - AITF is celebrating its 15th anniversary!06.04.2016 13:38
The leading trade event for professionals in the tourism business, the 15th Anniversary Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair, AITF 2016, will open its doors on April 7 in Baku Expo Center. Over the years, the AITF exhibition has worked with around 2,200 companies from over 40 countries worldwide, becoming the ‘hub’ for the tourism industry of the entire Caspian region. It is where important meetings are organised, partnership agreements are concluded, and new programs and destinations are announced. Since its inception AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In the last few years Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has toured the exhibition and met with exhibitors. Such attention to the industry and to the exhibition itself from the country’s government gives additional impetus to the development of business relations in the tourism sphere.
EXHIBITIONS AND INDUSTRY
The tourism industry has shown significant growth during the years of Azerbaijan’s independence and the AITF exhibition reflects this positive trend. Though during the first AITF exhibition, which was organised in 2002, only 26 companies from 5 countries participated, now there is a sizeable growth in a number of areas. According to an independently conducted audit, the AITF exhibition ranks highest of all regional tourism events when looking at the number of companies participating, countries involved and destinations offered. In addition, statistics comparing AITF to all other exhibitions in Azerbaijan show that AITF ranked first in the number of countries represented (more than 40 countries each year), fifth in the exhibition area occupied (an average of around 2,000 m2), and sixth in the number of visitors (more than 4000 professional visitors each year).
The exhibitions are increasingly becoming a platform for announcing new flights and airlines, announcing memoranda and international agreements, and informing about innovations and achievements within the industry. According to the results of the exhibition, the local travel agencies had the opportunity to expand their portfolio of proposed destinations for travellers, and participating countries respectively noticed an increase in the flow of tourists from Azerbaijan. On the other hand, the exhibition clearly presents foreign participants with Azerbaijan’s rich potential in tourism, thereby contributing to the popularisation of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination. In the coming years, the exhibition will reflect the tourism development strategy in Azerbaijan for 2016 to 2025; a strategy that is currently being developed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.
WHOLE WORLD. ONE EXHIBITION.
This year, the anniversary AITF exhibition will welcome 330 companies from 29 countries around the world, representing 80 tourist destinations. Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Montenegro, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine booked pavilions for the show. For the first time Belarus has joined with national stand. The Stavropol Region (under the supervision the Ministry of Culture of the Stavropol Region), Catalonia (Spain) and Jurmala (Latvia) are presented with separate regional stands. The accredited embassies of Indonesia and Turkey in Azerbaijan, as well as international associations, chambers of commerce and public institutions, such as the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia, TUROB Hotel Association of Turkey, Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), Manavgat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Turkey), Riga Tourism Development Bureau (Latvia), the municipalities of the Turkish cities of Bursa, Konya, Izmir, Erzurum and Trabzon are among this year’s participants. Newcomers comprise up to 33% of the total number of participants this year. Among these newcomers are companies and hotels from Belarus, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Turkey, Montenegro and other countries.
NEW DESTINATIONS AND SECTORS
Being the first exhibition of the spring season, AITF will be the central platform for negotiations, meetings, proposals and exchange of views in the tourism sector. Exhibitors will present exclusive offers on various tourist destinations. Among them are travel agencies, airlines, national and regional tourist organisations, hotel chains, international real estate agencies, motels and hostels, and therapeutic and SPA centres.
The number of participants representing the sector of “Medical and Health Tourism” has significantly increased. This year, the latest achievements in the field of medical, health and SPA tourism are demonstrated by 32 companies, medical centres, health resorts and sanatoriums from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries.
Companies such as Coastline Keys Turkey, Dukley, Lustica Development Ad, Realty Port, Istanbul, Terra Minora, The First Group, Toros Residence Ins.Tic.Ve San.Ltd.Sti. will participate in the sector of “Real Estate Abroad” with proposals for real estate in countries such as Spain, Turkey, Dubai, Montenegro and Bulgaria. You can obtain any information about the purchase, sale, lease, loan and investment programs at the stands of these companies.
Domestic tourism is the main trend in Azerbaijan. The potential of domestic tourism in Azerbaijan will be presented at the stand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Azerbaijan Republic and the traditional exposition of the country's regions, including Gabala, Gakh, Ganja, Lankaran, Masalli, Mingechevir, Ismailli, Zaqatala, and Sumqayit. The stand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic will present the unique nature, historic sites, hotels and clinics that Nakhchevan holds. The stand of Karabakh is a traditional participant of the exhibition, representing the beauty and opportunities for tourism in the region. The exposition of AZTA reflects a wide range of proposals for tourism in Azerbaijan and abroad, which has gathered more than 20 travel agencies, hotels, resorts from Azerbaijan at its stand.
All information concerning the long-awaited event - the 2016 Baku European Grand Prix, Formula 1, which will take place in June 2016 in Baku, is presented on a separate stand of the Formula 1 Baku European Grand Prix at the exhibition. Information of course includes the competition’s program and ticket information.
The anniversary exhibition is distinguished by the organisers launching a first-time workshop to be held on April 8 in Baku Expo Center. The participants in the workshop will have the opportunity to a pre-scheduled meeting to establish business contacts with representatives of leading local tour companies. This enables them to talk to them without intermediaries, to get a real notion on how a particular tourist product will be perceived by the market. A special on-line appointments system has been created for the organisation of the workshop. The organisers are confident that the workshop will be held for the benefit of the participants and will be held annually within the framework of the exhibition.
The AITF 2016 exhibition covers a whole week of presentations of tourist opportunities of the participants, as exhibitors have planned workshops, presentations and seminars both before and after the exhibition. In the days of the exhibition, on April 7 in Baku Expo Center, the presentation of tourist potential of the city of Jurmala (Latvia) will take place from 14:30 to 17:00.
For the exhibition’s 15th Anniversary, organisers have prepared a special program of additional events. The program’s main feature is a joint project with the Administration of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The idea is to demonstrate Azerbaijan’s traditional national crafts, which reflect the history and character of the country. Therefore, during all days of the exhibition, the stand of the Icherisheher Centre of Traditional Arts, located in the lobby of the exhibition complex, will feature 4 types of decorative arts and crafts - ceramics, “batika”, jewellery work, as well as woodwork. Graduates of the Centre, who already are certified craftsmen, will show the process of creating unique products. Has been started at the initiative and with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation as of October 2012, Icherisheher Centre of Traditional Arts is a joint project of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts of Great Britain and the Administration of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve. The organisers are confident that the introduction of the Centre and Azerbaijani craftwork will inspire visitors and exhibitors, and will provide an excellent opportunity to get to know the rich cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. Each visitor will be able to leave their comments and suggestions on the impressions of the anniversary exhibition on a wide canvas, which will be placed at Baku Expo Center. Since 2016 has been declared to be the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, the highlight of the anniversary program will be a bright carnival show held with the participation of exhibitors and visitors, thus reflecting the idea of multiculturalism.
SUPPORT & ORGANISERS
AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The exhibition is also supported by the regular participant Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) and receives endorsement from international bodies such as the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). AITF is recognised by UFI (the global association of the exhibition industry). All events held by Iteca Caspian are supported by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), and the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ASK).
The organisers of the exhibition are Iteca Caspian and its UK partner ITE Group. Among Iteca Caspian’s 2016 partners are SafeLife, the security partner; travel agency Premier Tour; the official hotels «Sheraton hotel» and «Qafqaz Point Hotel»; and official stand builder AzExpoMontage. AITF exhibition will be open to only professionals from 7-9 April and welcome all visitors on 9th of April.