Meet ms. Sheyda Allahverdiyeva, the Thematic Product Development Specialist at Azerbaijan Tourism Board

"Our destination brand invites potential travellers to 'take another look' at Azerbaijan's rich culture, ancient heritage, amazing nature and warm hospitality."

What is the Azerbaijan Tourism Board?

Jewish heritage is an important part of Azerbaijani culture, which proudly presents itself as multicultural and tolerant. As the official tourism organization of the country, Azerbaijan Tourism Board has a strong focus on bringing this diverse heritage forward as tourism products. Jewish heritage in Azerbaijan is one of the brightest and richest among them. As ATB, so far we have done important things for the development of Jewish Heritage tourism, examples to which are the Jewish Walking Tour project in Baku, involvement of the Jewish community to trade shows, organization of various local events, capacity building trainings to support tourism development in Jewish settlements of Azerbaijan and many others.

What is your role in this institution?

I am the thematic product development specialist and my area is cultural heritage. My main role in the development of the Jewish heritage product is collecting information, facts, and stories, bringing the people and stakeholders together in order to turn them into cultural tourism products.

What is your personal connection to the history of the Jews of Azerbaijan Republic?

Azerbaijan has always taken pride in its pluralism, tolerance and friendly cooperation policy with all the ethnic and religious groups living in its territories. The same applies for the Jewish community and being given the chance to develop Jewish heritage as a tourism product has a real privilege and an act of demonstration of this policy.

What is the situation of Azerbaijan Jewish heritage with respect to the rest of the European countries?

Azerbaijan is home to a big community of Ashkenazi Jews who came here from different parts of Europe. Moreover, Azerbaijan has recently joined the European Route of Jewish Heritage of the Council of Europe.

What is the role of the Jewish Heritage in the EU nowadays in your opinion?

Jewish heritage in the EU nowadays is an interesting blend of various stages of history, culture, origins and traditions. In my opinion, the role of Jewish heritage is preservation and showcasing this heritage.

Tell us an anecdote: Which activity do you remember most warmly and why?

Development of the Jewish heritage walking route in Baku was quite a remarkable event because it concerned collecting stories and facts, historical photographs and documents about different Jewish sites across Baku.

When did you start to be part of AEPJ and what has it brought you since then?

We became part of AEPJ in autumn 2020. We are curious to learn about and from the experience of other AEPJ countries and demonstrate our own unique Jewish heritage to the rest of the members. Exchange of information and know-how is our main motivation in becoming a member of AEPJ.

What challenges do you have ahead of you for this year?

The main challenge ahead of us this year is related to all the restrictions imposed on tourism activities because of the COVID pandemic. However, we have a lot to look for in the coming months such as the installment of Jewish heritage walking route signage, projects in Qirmizi Qasaba and we are using this time for the development of such projects.

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