Sale! Azerbaijan Tourism Prices Fall 15%
I’m not really sure what to make of this number. Or of this story:
The prices on travel services were reduced by 15 percent in Azerbaijan this summer, the head of the tourism department of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Aydin Ismiyev told Trend.
Ismiyev said that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism began monitoring the regional state of tourism services in Azerbaijan. At present, monitoring is being conducted in the southern regions by a representative from the Ministry of Economic Development.
“The monitoring has already been conducted in the Guba-Khachmaz zone, including in Baku-Gakh, Baku-Sheki, and Baku-Khachmaz,” Ismiyev said.
We already know that there were changes in travel between Baku and the regions. Since then, however, I’ve noticed a few oddities with those bus trips. As I had mentioned in the previous article, all the buses between Lankaran and Baku had been stopping at the brand-new Ceyran restaurant. Some cracks appear to be forming, as on my last bus down we stopped at one of the old regular restaurants. Our pit-stop happened at this previously well-used pit-stop restaurant, and then we continued on down the road and stopped in at the Ceyran for just a minute or two while the driver talked with someone. I can’t pretend I know what’s happening here, but my only guess is that that particular bus driver might be working an angle, and hoped to explain away his absence from the Ceyran stop so there would be no repercussions for straying from the norm. I won’t put it past any of these drivers to try to work the system for an extra free meal or a few extra bucks for stopping their bus of hungry, tea-thirsty folks at certain rest stops. I digress.
Back to the 15% reduction in service prices: I would like to know how they measure that. I recall that about six months ago, the standard fare from Baku to Lankaran was climbing, nearing six or seven Manat depending on when you were going and who the driver was. Then one day, the price fell back to the 5 AZN it had been previously. That would be approximately a 15% drop, right there. Yet, such a drop in prices could only be imposed from above. Nobody should be mistaking this for normal market supply-demand shifts. So it might not be that tourism services are now cheaper based on the market, but instead based on the knowledge from those in high places that in order for tourism to have any sort of fighting chance at succeeding in Azerbaijan, prices have to fall a bit. This is not your backpacker’s haven.
The last thing I would like to point out is that some prices have actually risen. Stop in at Ceyran and you will be greeted by a price for tea that went up from 1 AZN to 1.50. And if you are a foreigner, be prepared to fight for that price, even though it’s written on the menu. My last experience there had the waiter trying to get 5 AZN out of me and I had to give a lecture on how they’ll never be considered as hospitable or tourist-friendly as they want to be if they try to cheat people. I can only hope that the monitoring being carried out by the Ministry of Economic Development is finding ways to promote a more transparent and effective tourist industry.