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Azerbaijan Tourism Board launched its official representation in Tel Aviv & invites Israeli travellers to turn over an eco-friendly leaf with exhilarating and conscious travel experiences

  Azerbaijan Tourism Board announced today the opening of its official representation in Tel Aviv. Lead by Jamila Talibzade, the new office reflects the boards strategy to embrace the opportunity for change and inviting travellers to take a new look at what Azerbaijan has to offer in this new era.

Jamila Talibzade said: "At a time when the environment, sustainability and reconnecting with people while maintaining social distancing are hot topics of conversation, Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) is extremely happy to cut the ribbon of its new representative office at Herbert Samuel Dock on the sea front of Tel Aviv". She explained that the main role of the new office will be increasing awareness of Israelis about Azerbaijan, promoting tourism potential of the destination, bring together people of both countries, maintaining day-to-day management and administration related to tourism promotion, along with detailed market research.

The new office will be working with all of the major travel agents, tour operators, and airlines that are currently resuming their direct 3 hours flights to Baku.

Jamila has been working as a civil servant for over 25 years in Azerbaijan. In 2017 she joined the Azerbaijan Tourism Promotion Board as a marketing manager. Since the establishment of the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2018, she has held the position of head of the International Relations Department.

47,000 Israelis visited Azerbaijan in 2019 (compared to 40,000 in 2018), thus representing a terrific increase of 17.3%. Although this number drastically decreased because of the worldwide pandemic, ATB is working in various direction to make it up through various online tools and webinar, and trade shows. The opening of the Tourism Representative Office in a huge step towards this commitment.
Israeli tourists are eligible for e-visa and visa upon arrival issued at the airport. An e-visa can be obtained via evisa.gov.az/en portal and is sent directly to the applicant’s email. The standard e-visa is issued within 3 working days and is valid for a period of 90 days with permission to stay in the country for 30 days on a single-entry basis.
Arriving in Azerbaijan is very comfortable thanks to the state-of-the-art Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which was given a 5-star rating by Skytrax. Currently, through a relatively short 3-hour direct flight from Tel Aviv to Baku via AZAL, IsrAir and Arkia Airlines, Israelis can gain a unique cultural experience at very affordable prices. The majority of Israelis visited Azerbaijan in summer in accordance with vacation in Israel. Israeli travelers spend an average of 4.5 nights in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has been a home for Jewish community since 19th century, which has been cherished and preserved till nowadays. The destination has long been welcoming guests from Israel, attracted by the beauty, culture, traditions, people and hospitality of this country. Azerbaijan’s Jewish community consists of around 16,000 people, with 11,000 of them being mountain Jews.
More than 3,000 of them live in Guba region, in a settlement called Red Village – the only community of dense Jewish population outside Israel and the US. Today, the country is home to many Jews, who are divided into three ethnic subgroups: Mountain Jews, Ashkenazi and Ebraelis or Georgian Jews. In the southern regions of Jalilabad and Lankaran you can also find Subbotniks and Gers – groups of ethnic Russians practising Judaism. The museum of mountain Jews opened there just last year to shine a light on this one-of-a-kind community, their traditions and culture, keeping them safe for generations to come.
Jewish heritage in Azerbaijan is also represented by monuments spread across Baku, Guba, Oghuz, Ismayilli and other regions. Many ruins of ancient synagogues have been found in diverse parts of the country and seven synagogues are still currently functioning. Today, it is possible to walk in main streets of Baku and enjoy fascinating Jewish synagogues, learn about well-known Jews of Azerbaijan and their contribution to the socio-economic development of the country. Jewish walking tours offered to tourists will take you through the key sites of Jewish heritage in Baku while uncovering the stories of exceptional people and historic events. During the tour, participants visit the synagogue of Mountain Jews and the new museum, the synagogue of Ashkenazi and Georgian Jews, the memorial board of Nobel prize laureate Lev Landau born in Baku, the State Song Theatre which used to be Baku’s first synagogue and Jewish theatre, as well as Chabad-or-Avner Education Complex that offers secondary education to Jewish students.

Straddling two continents where East meets West, Azerbaijan offers a rare and vibrant mix of culture, architecture and culinary heritage. Add in the warm climate and diverse natural landscapes – from mountains, volcanoes and gorges to waterfalls, forests and sandy beaches along the Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan has all the ingredients for socially-distanced tourism that is both accessible and exhilarating.

 Whether you have been to Azerbaijan before or are a first-time visitor, the country has something for everyone, and now is the time to explore all its offerings with international borders gradually opening

# A vibrant food scene with a focus on Slow Food

Thanks to the country’s geographical location along the ancient Silk Road, every region has its own culinary heritage and unique produce, which together provide the foundation for the rich flavours of Azerbaijani cuisine. By combining travel with first-hand culinary experiences with farmers, shepherds, butchers and bakers, travellers are helping to preserve gastronomic traditions and local ingredients that may otherwise be on the brink of extinction.

One such experience offers travellers keen to discover this side of Azerbaijan the chance to stay overnight at rural guesthouses and help with seasonal activities, such as seeding, planting, cultivating, harvesting, processing and packaging, and be rewarded with the opportunity to cook and taste the fruits of their labour as well.

ATB has also recently introduced the national Ark of Taste menu, which was created as part of an EU-funded project to promote Slow Food. The menu offers a unique celebration of the traditional cuisine by supporting local farmers and food producers to safeguard native ingredients and techniques, such as the production of mountain honey, the Madrasa grape, hazelnuts, rosehip syrup, and dairy products made from buffalo milk.

# Nature at its best

With people seeking to travel more safely and privately than ever, outdoor and eco-friendly activities are increasingly in demand, and Azerbaijan has almost every kind of geography to explore. Highlights include:

Hiking in pristine nature – with around 150 kilometres of marked hiking trails connecting remote mountain villages and passing through lush forests, waterfalls and lakes in the Caucasus mountains, it is now easier than ever to hike, cycle, and camp in these landscapes and travel between them.

Birdwatching – with around 400 recorded species of birds, Azerbaijan has established itself as a leading birdwatching destination. There are magnificent sites in the Caucasus Mountains for birdwatching, and there has been particular focus on preserving and developing the Besh Barmag State Reserve, northwest of Baku, to help protect and keep track of the area’s bird population and serve as a birdwatchers’ hub.

Winter activities – travellers looking for a fairy-tale destination this festive season, should look no further than Shahdag in Gusar, Tufandag in Gabala and Agbulag in Nakhchivan for a real taste of winter, while adrenalin-seekers will love the choice of activities available on land and in the air, including skiing, snowmobiling, paragliding and quad tours.

# Wonders of the natural world

Along with abundant opportunities for nature-focused activities, travellers also have a chance to develop a deeper appreciation for the country by sampling a variety of wellness experiences that harness the restorative effects of nature itself.

Salt therapy – said to have positive effects on a variety of ailments including asthma and allergies, as well as having benefits for aging skin, one of the most impressive places to experience traditional salt therapy is Duzdag, or ‘Salt Mountain’ in Nakhchivan. The former salt mine is made up of a complex of tunnels burrowed 300 meters into the mountain which is thought to contain 130 million tons of the purest natural salt in the world.

Now part of the Duzdag Physiotherapy Center, guests can stay overnight in one of the Center’s subterranean rooms, enjoying not only the restorative powers of the salt, but solitude and peace of mind.

Thermal baths and springs – since ancient times, locals in Azerbaijan’s south-eastern region have turned to thermal water springs for their health. Known as “istisu”, bathing in the mineral-rich water — or even drinking it — is a common pastime in Lankaran, Gabala, and the Karabakh region, where it is revered for its rejuvenating qualities and used to treat numerous conditions.

With over 30 hot and cold mineral water springs to be found across the Greater Caucasus Mountains – each one offering health-seekers distinct concentrations of minerals and organic substances – there are plenty of opportunities to bask in soothing formal treatments while enjoying unbeatable views of some of Azerbaijan’s great natural attractions.

The oil of Naftalan – used for therapeutic purposes going back as far as the 12th century, the unique composition of Naftalan oil has helped turn the town of Naftalan into one of Azerbaijan’s leading health tourism destinations.

According to local folklore, the oil’s healing properties were first discovered by a Silk Road merchant who left one of his sickly camels by a pool of Naftalan oil and later returned to find it fully recovered. Today, it is believed to possess natural anaesthetic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antihistamine properties, and can be used to treat more than 70 different ailments from skin conditions and problems related to the nervous system to stress and fatigue.

 # Take a walk through history and culture

From World Heritage sites to amazing architecture, there is so much history and culture to explore in Azerbaijan. There is no better way to discover the cultural heart of the capital city Baku than with a specially-curated walking tour to the its medieval core – UNESCO-protected Old City with Maiden Tower and Shirvanshahs’ Palace.
The unique history and culture of Azerbaijan, home to some of the earliest civilisations, have also been enriched by the constant stream of travellers passing through along the great Silk Road. One of the locations where their traces can be clearly seen is the Ateshgah Fire Temple, which was built around naturally burning fires previously worshipped by Zoroastrians. Adopted by Hindu merchants trading in nearby Baku, the temple was an important place of pilgrimage for fire worshippers until the 1880s.
Another visible trace of the Silk Road is the city of Sheki, whose historic centre is Azerbaijan’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its local traditions of craftsmanship, which date back centuries, Sheki is also part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
There is one more route to track in Azerbaijan to explore its cultural heritage. One of the most recent inspiring destinations in Azerbaijan is Shusha - home to many Azerbaijani composers, musicians, and poets, as well as one of the leading schools of mugham, a traditional genre of vocal and instrumental arts. It is also known for its carpet-weaving traditions and was the centre of the renowned Karabakh carpet school.

# Ease of travel

Currently, citizens and permanent residents of 42 countries can travel to Azerbaijan by air, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. With restored connection via the Azerbaijani Airlines, Flydubai, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways, passengers aged over 18 can now fly to Azerbaijan, submitting both a COVID passport (an official document issued by the relevant country on complete vaccination or recovery from COVID-19) and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before the flight, while for minors only the latter needs to be provided within the indicated period of time.

# Air and on the ground information

Getting from the airport to the city centre is around 20 mins by car or by bus. There are shuttle buses on the route from the airport to the downtown, as well as taxis available at the entrance to the terminal. Arriving visitors can also use Bolt or Uber apps to get a taxi from the airport to their destination. In Baku, it is possible to use the underground metro, public buses and taxis, as well as taxi apps. For interregional travel, it is possible to rent a car or buy a ticket for interregional bus ride.
Azerbaijan’s country code is +994. Mobile phones not purchased in Azerbaijan can be used for 30 days but after that you'll need to register the phone's IMEI code.
Accommodation options are available for all types of travellers and budgets. While the majority of hotels and other types of accommodation are located in the capital city Baku, such as global hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont and soon-to-be-opened IHG and Ritz Carlton, other regions of Azerbaijan offer a good variety of options to make visitors’ stay unforgettable. For those wishing to take a rest from the busy city life, large resorts and spas offering numerous health treatments await them in picturesque surroundings. There is also a growing range of hostels and homestays available throughout the country.
Those travelling to Azerbaijan can find plenty of places to get a great taste of the local traditional cuisine, as well as a growing mix of popular international franchises, contemporary cafes, pubs, wine bars and other catering facilities.
The national currency of Azerbaijan is Manat (AZN). For current exchange rates, please check with the Central Bank of Azerbaijan. The exchange rate for USD fluctuates around 1.7 AZN for 1 USD. In Baku, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere - at hotels, stores, cafes and restaurants. The most common credit card types in Baku are VISA, Visa Electron, Master Card but you should have no problem finding ATMs that also accept Maestro and American Express.

Currently citizen of 65 countries are allowed to enter the country. Below is the updated list:
Russia, Turkey, the United States, Bahrain, the UAE, Great Britain, Israel, Hungary, Qatar, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Greece, China, Estonia, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Croatia, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Brunei, South Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Norway, Oman, Panama, Salvador, Uruguay and New Zealand.

About the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB)
The Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) is the national promotion body established under the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its main objectives are to support the growth of Azerbaijan’s tourism industry and encourage visitors to explore the country’s rich cultural offering and experience its ancient heritage.

For more information, visit https://azerbaijan.travel/

and follow on social media at: https://www.instagram.com/experienceazerbaijan/

https://www.facebook.com/ExperienceAZE/, https://twitter.com/ExperienceAZE

  

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates Azerbaijan on this wonderful celebration

 

Photos credit Silvia G. Golan 

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