Azerbaijan joins and signs MOU with GSTC

The State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan has joined as a Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) 

Azerbaijan Tourism Board signs MOU at GSTC2024 Sweden with GSTC.

Azerbaijan is known for its rich cultural tapestry and diverse landscapes, ranging from the Caspian Sea’s coastline to the towering Caucasus Mountains. Its capital, Baku, presents a notable contrast between the ancient Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site characterized by its medieval walls and palace, and the modern skyline marked by contemporary structures like the Flame Towers. Beyond Baku, one of the roads follows the legacy of the Silk Road, notably in Sheki and restored mountain village of Basgal. These locations, on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, are home to many traditional arts and crafts, with silk headscarf kelaghayi being a pearl of cultural heritage. The northern route surprises with nomadic experience in the newly inscribed UNESCO site of Khinalig village. Located 2,220 meters above sea level, remote Khinalig village boasts a centuries-old tradition of transhumance. As the seasons change, thousands of Khinalig families continue to roam between the mountainous terrain and lowlands along the historic ‘Köç yolu’ (Nomadic route) seasonal migration path.

Sustainability in Azerbaijan

The State Tourism Agency (STA) of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Tourism Board launched Azerbaijan’s Tourism Strategy 2023-2026, presenting a strategic and holistic framework to lead the tourism development in the country for the next 4 years. It defines the strategic vision and guiding principles and envisions tourism development through a 9-pillar model:

  1. Tourism Governance
  2. Regulatory Capacity
  3. Destination Development, Heritage and Communities
  4. Brand, marketing, and communications
  5. Tourism products and experiences
  6. Digitalization, technology, and innovation
  7. Data analysis and research
  8. Tourism investment and public-private partnerships
  9. Human resource development

Its strategic vision is to further enhance Azerbaijan an accessible, sustainable, and ‘quality tourism’ destination that offers unique experiences to both domestic and international tourists.

This strategy is aligned with the strategic document of the government of Azerbaijan – The Social Economic Development Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2022-2026, which is closely mapped to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

View Azerbaijan’s Tourism Strategy (2023-2026) here.

Fuad Naghiyev, Chairman of the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, stated that developing sustainable tourism is one of the significant directions in Azerbaijan’s national tourism strategy. He stressed the necessity of incorporating sustainable practices into all aspects of state policy in tourism. “Azerbaijan’s membership in the GSTC provides a valuable platform for all tourism stakeholders in the country since it will contribute to positioning Azerbaijan as a preferred sustainable tourism destination. Through this collaboration, we can work towards creating lasting and meaningful changes in the global tourism industry, promoting sustainability for all involved and maintaining sustainability in tourism while preserving local culture and heritage,” Naghiyev highlighted.

“Azerbaijan’s membership in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council signifies our commitment to adapting global sustainable tourism standards to the national level. This membership will assist us in encouraging local stakeholders in the tourism industry to embark on their sustainability journey. Our vision is to establish and implement national sustainable tourism standards based on the criteria set by the GSTC. The Azerbaijan Tourism Board, through its promotion and marketing campaigns, will strive to achieve a harmonious balance for sustainable growth within our local tourism industry, leading us towards a sustainable future,” said Florian Sengstschmid, CEO of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board.

GSTC Welcomes the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan

“We welcome Azerbaijan as a new member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. At GSTC we believe each member can become a driving force in advancing sustainable tourism. We wish the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan the best of success in its journey toward sustainability,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.

GSTC encourages destinations pursuing sustainability practices in tourism development and management to join as GSTC members and apply the GSTC Destination Criteria, which eventually can help achieve certification by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body

MOU between Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) and GSTC

Azerbaijan joins and signs MOU with GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in April 2024 at the #GSTC2024 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in order to enhance collaboration. The primary objective of this partnership is to foster cooperation among all parties involved, generating synergies that will contribute to the advancement of sustainable tourism and the application of the GSTC Criteria. By promoting mutual understanding of each other’s requirements and procedures, GSTC and ATB aim to elevate sustainable tourism initiatives in Azerbaijan.

About the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan

The State Tourism Agency (STA) of the Republic of Azerbaijan is a central executive authority that implements state policy and regulation in the field of tourism, as well as the protection of historical and cultural monuments located in the territories of state reserves under its jurisdiction.

The STA oversees the development and execution of a unified state policy in the field of tourism, implementation of norm-setting activities, the governmental regulation, control, and arrangement in tourism, maintaining coordinated activities between other governmental bodies, and organizations, as well as with physical persons and legal entities, international and non-governmental organizations in terms of tourism development, protection of reserves and sustaining the purposive use of its resources, promotion, and protection of national culinary samples. 

More information here: 

About the Azerbaijan Tourism Board 

The Azerbaijan Tourism Board focuses on developing the country’s tourism potential through marketing strategies and promotional activities and collaborates with various stakeholders to increase international awareness of Azerbaijan’s diverse attractions through participation in global travel fairs, and partnerships.

Additionally, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board works on improving the overall visitor experience by offering information, and support to tourists, inviting travelers to ‘take another look’ at Azerbaijan’s rich culture, ancient heritage, nature, and hospitality.

More information here: 

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council® (GSTC®) establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are three sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, Industry Criteria for Hotels and Tour Operators, and MICE Criteria for Venues, Event Organizers, and Events & Exhibitions. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

The GSTC Criteria form the foundation for GSTC’s assurance role for Certification Bodies that certify hotels/accommodations, tour operators, and destinations as having sustainable policies and practices in place. GSTC does not directly certify any products or services, but provides accreditation to those that do. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGOs, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

Information for media and the press: 

Statements expressed in this announcement are presented for informational purposes only and should not be taken as an endorsement or recommendation by GSTC, unless clearly stated.