Visitor survey suggests reality of health tourism to Azerbaijan


The Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) is Azerbaijan's national tourism promotion organisation. ATB carried out a visitor survey in 2018 which showed that only 12% visited for shopping or education or for health and medical care. The results do not split these three categories; however, health and medical tourism is one area where trips last 10 days or more.

The country had 3.4 million tourists in 2018, of which 75% of tourists came from Russia, Georgia and Turkey, with more than a third of the total coming from Russia alone. Substantial numbers also come from Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

ATB is part of the State Tourism Agency that has been working on a new strategy for developing health tourism but this seems to have been delayed indefinitely.

Azerbaijan has potential to develop health tourism, particularly for therapeutic mineral and thermal water treatments. Naftalan, in central Azerbaijan, is home to natural spas and facilities that have curative crude oil. 65,000 local and foreign health tourists went to Naftalan, Galaalti and Duzdagh in 2018.

The healthcare tourism industry in Azerbaijan has its roots in traditions and infrastructure built during the Soviet period. For many decades the facilities, having lost the state paid-for 1.5 million Russian visitors, went into decline, with many destinations still needing an upgrade to meet the demands of modern-day international health tourists.

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