BAKU NAMED TOP ASIA DESTINATION FOR 2018 / By Rashid Shirinov

TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site, announced the Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise, with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, taking the top spot for Asia.

Baku, or the City of Winds as it’s called here, was ranked the 5th in the list of top destinations for travelers in 2017. The list also includes San Jose del Cabo (Mexico), Whistler (Canada), Jericoacoara (Brazil), Kihei (Hawaii), as well as the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.

The criteria to determine the best destinations for tourists included positive feedback from travelers, number of attractions and venues for entertainment, as well as the quality of service.

“These destinations are fast gaining interest and popularity amongst our community of travelers all over the world,” said Ms Janice Lee Fang, communications director for TripAdvisor, Asia Pacific. “We hope these winning lists will inspire those planning trips in 2017 to consider booking their holidays with some of these rising destinations, be it Baku, Da Lat or Kuching”.

“We were very excited to see Baku top the list in Asia – Azerbaijan has a fascinating cultural history that straddles the East and West and given that almost 65% of Asian travelers surveyed said that their main travel motivation is to experience and learn about new cultures, we are hopeful this win will encourage even more travel and discovery to Baku in 2017,” she said

Situated along the Caspian Sea, Baku is a heady mix of Asian and Western cultures, of the old and new, all of which is best reflected in the city’s sights and landmarks.

Travelers can explore the famed medieval Old City, hailed as a “must-visit”, which houses the UNESCO-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. Admire the city’s contemporary buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Flame Towers – a trio of skyscrapers covered with LEDs and displaying the mesmerizing movement of a flame.

Over the past 10 years, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by five times. Today, 4.5 percent of the total gross domestic product falls for income from tourism.

Currently, Azerbaijan has about 300 tourist companies and more than 570 placements. The country hosts a series of luxury hotels – Jumeirah, Excelsior, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, JW Marriott, Kempinski, as well as many budget hotels for cost-conscious travelers. Soon the country plans to increase the number of two- and three-star hotels of economy class for the development of both inbound and domestic tourism.

Moreover, the decree on facilitation of e-visas issuance and establishment of ASAN Visa system will make life easier for many travelers wishing to visit Baku and the whole country.

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