The results of the first Baku Shopping Festival were revealed
The first Baku Shopping Festival was held from April 10 till May 10, 2017 in Azerbaijan. This is the first shopping festival organized in the country and overall in the CIS per the Decree on organization of shopping festivals in Baku dated 1 September 2016 and the Strategic Road Map on Tourism Sector Development approved by President of Azerbaijan H.E. Ilham Aliyev.
This significant and perspective project was implemented based on the international best practice and has proven to be successful in terms of tourism development, building competitiveness capacity compared to similar festivals held in other cities, enhancing private-public partnership and support to increase the trade turnover, especially, retail trade.
Along with the positive effect on local entrepreneurship, tourism and trade development, the Festival introduced the VAT refund scheme available for foreigners also to local citizens. It is worth to mention that returning VAT to local citizens has never been applied anywhere before, and was for the first time in the world introduced in Azerbaijan. Given this unique opportunity and also based on observations of shopping habits, the Festival plans for the next time, to arrange for availability of targeted and most relevant goods for sale.
According to the Azerbaijan Convention Bureau under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Festival has achieved significant results. During April 2017, up to 187,577 tourists visited Azerbaijan, which for 15 target countries is 23% higher compared for the same period of time in 2016. During first 10 days of May 2017, up to 70,776 tourists came to the country which is 32% higher than in 15 target countries last year.
During the Festival, 205 shops registered as participants of the Festival and 172 of them joined the VAT refund scheme. During the Baku Shopping Festival, the Tax Free system issued 23,242 tax invoices to buyers. Total turnover of approved invoices reached AZN18,167,892 and buyers received up to AZN1,800,000 of VAT refund.
Shoppers enjoyed discounts at 30-70% during the Festival month. According to the Festival participants representing various trade sectors, in some cases, sales in April 2017 increased compared to same period of last year. For example, 15% increase was registered at some premium clothing and accessories stores, 46% increase at some mass market retail stores, and at some sellers of electronics and home appliances sales volume increase reached almost 200%.
The Festival has also conducted very impressive local and international marketing, PR and communication campaigns. Altogether, people in 54 countries including Azerbaijan received information about the Festival via TV, radio, printed and online media, social networks and internet TV. Besides that, millions of users followed the Festival in social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and VKontakte. The largest number of viewers was observed in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Georgia, UAE, Oman and Qatar.
Around 200,000 people attended different events held during the Festival in the Old City, Sabir garden and other popular sites in the city.
All of the efforts and achievements of the Festival will surely contribute to promotion of Azerbaijan’s cultural and historical heritage and tourism capacity worldwide as well as will strengthen attractiveness of Baku and other regions of Azerbaijan for tourists. Consequently, the future festivals would increase inflow of tourists to the country and encourage development of retail trade, tourism services, hotel business, transport and other sectors.