Azerbaijan’s tourism industry is gaining steam through health tourism, one of the rapidly expanding domains of global travel. The recent announcement of Azerbaijan being among the top five wellness holiday destinations in the world based on the results of Internet voting of National Geographic Traveler Awards 2017 has boosted its medical tourism prospects.
The territory of Azerbaijan falls in 9 climatic zones out of the total 11 global climatic zones making it one of the prime tourist destinations in the world. The country is enjoying a stupendous growth in tourist visits from 2010-16 and is one of the fastest developing tourism markets in the world.
The high spending of international tourists last year bears a testimony to the fact. The country received a record 2 million tourist visits in 2011 and the number has gradually increased since then.
Azerbaijan has been a popular choice as a tourist attraction for its bright climate blessed with all sun and shine, amazing health facilities capitalizing on its natural resources and a leisurely vacationing. Mouth-watering cuisine, stunning landscapes, exotic culture and a colorful lifestyle together with an awesome prospect of spending a vacation in the Caucasian mountains have made this Central Asian country one of the highly appealing spots on the global tourism map.
The booming of the multi-billion medical tourism sector expected to grow at a faster rate for the next decade has been encouraging enough for this country to reshape its tourism industry by exploiting its medical tourism prospects to the fullest.
3rd Edition of Global Healthcare Travel Forum & 5th Annual General Assembly meeting hosted on April’19 was a grand success in Baku:
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Hosting of this prestigious international health tourism convention is aimed to unlock the health tourism potential of this country through a significant message “Healthcare for All”. Appreciable participation of delegates from 20 countries, over 150 leaders of healthcare sector and significant dignitaries supporting Azerbaijan’s tourism industry shows the country is taking the best possible efforts to become one of the highly-favored medical tourism destinations.
The meet has opened up unique opportunities to develop collaborative actions with cooperation from member countries to enhance healthcare expertise. Government support has been encouraging enough allocating nearly $ 614.5 million in healthcare this year (4.5% of the state budget) which is almost at par with the developed nations.
Harnessing medical tourism prospects:
The country with its diverse range of tourism activities and relaxed visa policy coming into effect from January 2017 has opened doors to more number of international medical travelers seeking a unique vacation-healthcare combo package at attractive prices.
Health tourism in Azerbaijan showed a dramatic improvement since the adoption of the state-backed program 2009-18. An association was created to boost the development of resorts supporting thermal tourism and spa tourism along with setting up of modernized healthcare organizations equipped with state-of-the art facilities.
The country is highly famous for the natural healing process with crude “Naftalan” oil originating in the Naftalan region. Since 1926, the region has well developed balneo-therapeutic health resorts famous for treatments with oil-baths, which is not found elsewhere.
It is this Naftalan oil that popularized this country long before the oil boom positioning Baku, the capital city, in global limelight. The oil is known to treat more than 70 diseases. The ointment extracted from this oil shows miraculous cure in skin diseases.
Hot Springs and Mud volcanoes:
It is worth mentioning here that Azerbaijan is rich in hot mineral springs and mud volcanoes. The hot spring in Masalli, a beautiful city known to be effective in treating countless ailments draws huge foreign tourists. The water released from a depth of 90-250 meters is rich in minerals contributing to the cure of diseases.
Salubrious mud therapy is a big draw for international travelers. Out of 800 mud volcanoes in the world, 300 are located in this country. The mud is used in treating varied medical conditions and even in cosmetology.
Salt mines located in Azerbaijan offers another unique healing process for chronic asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. Nakhchivan houses the most famous salt cave Duzdagh Cave. The area has 130 million tons of salt reserves formed naturally millions of years back.
The caves-turned-treatment-centers are either located above or under the ground 300 meters below sea level. Staying in these naturally formed salt chambers for 10-12 hours a day improves air circulation in the lungs. Those seeking for preventive measures make 2-3 visits to improve their lung functions.
Significant advancements in the field of medicine:
Azerbaijan’s healthcare system has been undergoing a revamp with the government taking notable steps in renovating the country’s healthcare facilities since last ten years.
The hospitals received huge funding helping in the renovation of more than 500 healthcare related facilities. To reconstruct the medical institutions, the state is seriously considering roping in the private sector organizations transferring a bulk share to them.
State-of-the-art facilities were installed and more trained specialists were accommodated. In cardiovascular treatments and oncology, Azerbaijan is offering a tough competition to its neighboring countries both in terms of quality and price.
In another appreciable effort, the state has been sponsoring for abroad professional education and training not only for doctors but also for other professionals in healthcare to enhance its existing capacity.
In the coming years, about a thousand physicians getting trained in advanced treatments in the US, UK and France will be joining the Azerbaijan’s medical team, which would be an added incentive to the country’s medical tourism sector.
It appears that Azerbaijan is leaving no stone unturned to come up in the global medical tourism index capitalizing its long-established popularity as a prime recreational destination.