The condition that most of the travel companies in Azerbaijan are into as a result of Azeri manat devaluation can be called in one word – bankruptcy, say most of the travel agencies. Immediately after the devaluation of Azeri manat a number of customers of travel agencies sharply dropped. In the years before November and December were always a boom season for travel agents with significant increase in sales of tour packages, but this year, on the contrary, they have barely any sales at all. Travel agencies have to pay to foreign air carriers and hotels in dollars, and this led to increase in the cost of travel packages. And most of the people can’t afford the packages at double prices and people began to return previously purchased packages.
Experts agree that the total impact of devaluation on tourist business could be assessed in full in February at the start of period when there is a traditional high season for tour packages to Turkey. Most of the travel agents are already complaining about the low interests among customers.
"Even those who bought the tickets a few months ago, en masse return previously bought tour packages," – confirmed in VIP Travel agency. According to several travel agencies, virtually no one else wants to travel to Europe or visit Dubai that used to be the most popular tourist destination in the winter. If before the crisis the holiday for two in Dubai costed on average 1,200 manat, now Azeri tourist will have to pay 2,400 manats. Air ticket per person rose from 260 manat to 383 manat, making it all an unbearable price for the local tourists.
Fly Travel employee Mamed Aliyev said that the increase in ticket prices by AZAL has also seriously affected situation when people stopped buying packages. "The cost of the ticket for the AZAL flight Baku-Istanbul-Baku increased from 250 manat to 380 manat. This is exactly the reason why people refuse to travel "- said M. Aliyev. According to him, the agency has tour packages for nearly all destinations, but people do not want to buy them.
Head of Azerbaijan Tourism Association Nahid Bagirov confirmed that there is a serious drop in the number of people who travel abroad. The reason for this Bagirov sees the devaluation of the manat. "Agencies are working with foreign air carriers and hotels, whose services are paid for in dollars and euros. For this reason, travel packages rose. But the rise in price of tour packages cannot be blamed on the agency, as this rise in prices caused devaluation of manat. "
Economic crisis has also affected local hotels that are seriously under-occupied. Firstly the crisis was felt by hoteliers in Georgia, whose main customers were tourists from Azerbaijan. With the price of manat dropped the flow of Azeri tourists dried and hotels in Georgia are now struggling to survive. Now hotels in Baku started experiencing problems with occupancy rates. A poll conducted by local information agency among 4 and 5 star hotels in Baku confirmed that most of the top-niche hotels are almost empty.
So far the better situation is in Fairmont Baku Hotel, where 127 out of 318 rooms have guests, making the occupancy rate at 40%. The siation is worse in Four Seasons Hotel and Qafqaz Baku City Hotel & Residence. Occupancy rate in JW Marriott Absheron not exceeds 205 and out of total 243 rooms 195 are currently empty. Another 5-star Hilton hotel has only 30 % occupancy.
Even worse the situation in the regions. Samaxi Palacе Hotel have 80 rooms empty out of total 102. The same situation is in Qafqaz Riverside Hotel. Interestingly, in Sheki Palace Hotel there are now 45 rooms empty out of total… 46 rooms. No need for further comment.