Azerbaijan is rapidly developing relations with India, the 7th biggest economy in the world. Cooperation in tourism, if exactly, increasing the number of Indian citizens' visits to Azerbaijan plays a great role in economic convergence. These issues were the topic of the Azerbaijan-India business symposium held on November 21 in Baku.
More than 40,000 Indian tourists in a year
The event took place as part of the visit of representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to Azerbaijan. The goal was to inform Indian investors about the business environment in Azerbaijan, encourage them to invest in the country’s economy and develop economic ties in this way.
It was noted at the symposium that India has developed agricultural, chemical, defense and construction industry. Currently, Azerbaijan accounts for 5.5% of India’s export and ranks fourth in this sense. The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and India during the nine months of 2019 rose by 13% settling at $929 million, with $104 million in export, and $824 million in import.
However, the two countries are linked not only by trade links. More than 40,000 tourists traveled from India to Azerbaijan in 2018, up 2.7-fold compared with 2017. In January-October 2019, the number of Indian tourists grew by 66.5% to reach 51,000 people.
“Our customers are interested in Baku”
CEO at Indian VMS Travels Tours LTD Srini Rao, who attended the symposium, told Report that the purpose of visiting Azerbaijan is to study new opportunities for organization of tours between the two countries: "I’m happy with being included in the delegation visiting Azerbaijan. Our company can make a contribution to development of bilateral tourism links."
Srini Rao noted that meetings were held with Azerbaijani tour operators within the framework visit: "I hope we’ll have B2B partnership with them and tourism links will develop more. India is a big market for Azerbaijan. About 20 million Indians travel all over the world every year. Only 0.2% of these people, which is very low, visits Azerbaijan. It’s possible to increase this number. Currently, no direct flight is implemented between Azerbaijan and India. This is a big gap in tourism links. I hope there will be direct flights soon and serve development of the tourism between the two countries."
Rao also noted that clients of the company are interested in Azerbaijan, especially Baku: "Baku has recently become famous in India. I believe that the number of Indian tourists visiting your capital will increase. I hope Azerbaijan will take advantage of this opportunity and promote country’s tourism potential in India."
“It’s necessary to use Indian market effectively”
Advisor to the chairman of Azerbaijan Tourism Association (ATA) Muzaffar Bagirov believes that the Indian market is important for Azerbaijan: "The two countries have signed memorandums on tourism. But it’s not enough. Links must be established with Indian tourism companies, companies should be identified to work with them, direct flights must be carried out. It’s necessary to use Indian market effectively."
There is potential for cooperation in other fields too
However, Azerbaijan and India also have potential for cooperation in other fields of economy. For instance, the two countries might carry out infrastructure projects. Director General of India’s Kalpataru Power Transmission LTD Leena Joshi said that the company have carried out works for oil and gas and road infrastructure in more than 50 countries in thirty years and may include Azerbaijan in its list: "For example, we can construct railway lines for Azerbaijan Railways OJSC, electrify them, install signalization systems. We’ll meet with the representatives of the OJSC for this purpose."
Indian companies are also experienced in pharmacology and agriculture. It was proposed at the symposium to create joint ventures.
The sides also spoke about cooperation in information and communication technologies. India is famous for this field. Azerbaijan has always expressed its intention to use India’s experience in this field.
Acting President of AZPROMO Yusif Abdullayev said that two Indian companies intend to open offices in Baku.