‘Progress on tourism and transport and logistics appear to be most advanced. On the tourism front, Azerbaijan's nine climates provide a variety of natural assets – businesses seek to attract winter tourism in the north of
According to the agency, tourist arrivals grew 22% year-on-year in 2016, while the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that tourism directly contributed 4% of 2016 GDP and employment: ‘Azerbaijan has the physical infrastructure – with a modern airport in Baku and four other international airports, the presence of leading global hotel chains, and improving transport links (more below) – to handle a further, significant increase in visitor arrivals. Azerbaijan also seeks to become a key transport and logistics hub, ultimately connecting China (A1 stable) and Central Asia with Europe (the so-called East-West corridor) and Russia (Ba1 positive) with Iran (unrated) and South Asia (the so-called North-South corridor)’.
‘Baku International Sea Trade Port is already the largest port on the Caspian Sea, and the first phase of relocation/expansion to the new Port of Baku in Alat is projected to be complete by mid-2018. The new port will be situated in a free trade zone that covers Baku's main international airport and railway nodes connecting Baku to Russia, Georgia (Ba2 stable) and Turkey (the recently completed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway), and Iran. The multimodal hub is expected to shorten transit times: for example, it currently takes 45 days to move items from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to Russia through existing sea routes, whereas a rail transit corridor through Azerbaijan would shorten the journey to 14 days. That said, the Azerbaijani authorities' diversification plans will come at a steep fiscal cost. Tax and custom incentives are part of the package to promote the development of non-oil sectors, and investment in infrastructure to build the transport and logistics hub alone is projected to cost some 5% of 2017 GDP’, the agency added