COUNTRY: Azerbaijan

GIZ Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training in the South Caucasus Programme

Concept on Sustainable Development of Ecotourism in Azerbaijan



Tourism is considered by the government of Azerbaijan as one of its priority areas in the development of a non-oil sector. During the last 10 years, the tourism industry in Azerbaijan has undergone significant development. The Government of Azerbaijan adopted the “Strategic Roadmap for specialized tourism industry in the Republic of Azerbaijan” at the end of 2016. Special attention is given in this strategic roadmap to the development of ecotourism and its importance for regional economic development, especially for employment promotion. Azerbaijan certainly features strong potential for the development of unique, authentic ecotourism, especially in and around its National Parks, where many of the country’s most attractive natural sites are located, with untapped potential for ecotourism. With roughly the size of Austria and it is considered the country with the highest biodiversity on the edge of Europe. To date, 10 national parks have been established by the parliament and presidential decree. About 10% of the country’s total area has become internationally certified large-scale reserves. Azerbaijan features strong potential to become a unique sustainable tourism destination, but the capacities and framework conditions are still lacking. The only pathway to success is to develop a highly authentic tourism model based on Azerbaijan’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) combined with competitive tourism services, infrastructure and tailor-made marketing and branding to give Azerbaijan “a face” as an emerging ecotourism destination. In this regard the State Tourism Agency (STA) of the Republic of Azerbaijan requested support from the GIZ Programme by developing a concept on sustainable development of eco and hiking tourism for Azerbaijan.

Project Aim

The overall objective of this assignment is to assess the potential of Azerbaijan and its National Parks as an ecotourism destination and to elaborate a concept on how to develop and market it as a sustainable, competitive ecotourism and hiking destination.

Services Provided

AGEG Tourism for Sustainability Consulting provided the following services:

  • Fact finding mission to the protected areas and national parks featuring the highest potential for ecotourism development
  • Assessment of ecotourism situation in Azerbaijan including SWOT analysis, institutional landscape, mapping the stakeholders, state of the tourism infrastructure, protected areas
  • Evaluation of the potential of the country as a competitive ecotourism destination
  • Identification of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Azerbaijan as a competitive ecotourism destination, especially in regard to Ecotourism and hiking tourism development.
  • Recommendations on the strategic approach for developing the country as a competitive ecotourism destination; on designing, implementing and promoting priority (flagship) ecotourism product(s) and tourism services; and setting up necessary management and organizational structures
  • Development of an illustrated strategic concept for the sustainable development of eco- and hiking tourism of the destination Azerbaijan