Azerbaijan is in 39th place in tourism competitiveness indicators among 148 countries according to CESD. The World Travel and Tourism Council reported that Azerbaijan is among the top ten countries with the greatest increase in visitors from 2010 to 2016. With 46.1 percent increase the country had the world’s fastest-developing travel and tourism economy in 2017. To promote tourism, Azerbaijan sponsored Atlético Madrid jerseys reading “Azerbaijan – Land of Fire”. In 2018 new tourism brend and slogan “take another look” were introduced.
Tourist visas can be obtained from an Azerbaijani embassy or electronically online without an embassy visit. In 2016, a tax-free shopping system was introduced to attract foreign shoppers. Purchases must be made up to 90 days before export to be eligible for the tax refund. Read about visa requirements.
In January 2017, Azerbaijan introduced its electronic visa for a single-entry visit of up to 30 days. The e-visa is available to tourists from 93 countries, who can apply on the e-visa website. A visa is not required for citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (except Turkmenistan and Armenia) who intend to visit Azerbaijan within 90 days.
Over 1.4 million tourists visited Azerbaijan in 2008. In 2017, a record high number of 2,691,998 foreign citizens visited Azerbaijan. Visitors to the country in 2017 came from Russia, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, UAE, Iraq, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Germany, Belarus, United States, Israel, Italy, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, China, India, France and other countries.
Most of the visitors were from Europe, Asia, and North America. There were 1,818,258 foreigners in Azerbaijan in 2017. The overwhelming majority were citizens of the Russian Federation, Arab countries, Iran and Kazakhstan, and the remainder came from Europe.
Azerbaijan had 320 hotels in 2007, 370 in 2008, 452 in 2009, 499 in 2010, 508 in 2011 and 514 in 2012. The country has 230 tourist agencies and 560 hotels and hostels.
In addition to the capital, Baku, Azerbaijan has a number of resort areas with varied climates and a variety of flora and fauna. Notable areas are the cities as Ganja, Nakhchivan, Gabala and Shaki. Shaki is noted for its architectural heritage: the 1763 Palace of Shaki Khans, mausoleums and fortresses. Nakhchivan, founded 3,500 years ago, was a centre of traditional medicine and has salt mines and mausoleums. Lankaran, near the Caspian Sea, has a history dating back to the 10th century BC.