The Business Year

Halil Duru


Chain of Command

General Coordinator, Gilan Tourism & Qafqaz Hotels and Resorts


Halil Duru has over 32 years of experience in the tourism sector, including being the Food and Beverage Manager of the Iberhotel Art and General Manager of the Montana Pine Hotel, the Istanbul Yacht Club, the Green Park Hotel Istanbul, and the Polat Renaissance Istanbul. Halil was the Assistant to the General Manager of the Tekirova Corinthia Hotel, and currently serves as General Coordinator of Gilan Tourism and Qafqaz Hotels and Resorts.

What new projects are you working on at the moment? One of the most important projects we have completed recently is the Tufandag ski resort in Gabala, the first stage […]

What new projects are you working on at the moment?

One of the most important projects we have completed recently is the Tufandag ski resort in Gabala, the first stage of which was inaugurated by President Ilham Aliyev on January 3, 2014. When the second stage of the project is finished, the resort will boast eight slopes, with the highest peak at 2,450 meters. In 2013, we also took over a hotel that had already been built in Gabala, which we named Qafqaz Yeddi Gozel, bringing the total number of hotels we operate in Gabala at the moment to six. These hotels are Qafqaz Resort, Qafqaz Riverside, Qafqaz Sport, Qafqaz Karavansaray, Qafqaz Yeddi Gozel, and Qafqaz Gabala City. In November 2013, President Aliyev also inaugurated a four-star hotel in our portfolio, Qafqaz karvansaray. At the moment, there are three five-star hotels in Gabala, one four-star hotel, and two three-star hotels with a total capacity of over 1,800 beds. The Qafqaz Group has 10 hotels in Azerbaijan at the moment, in Baku, Gabala, and Lankaran, and is working on opening five more by 2015. Two new destinations we are seeking to cover in the coming year are Lenkaran and Yengija, where we are building a 60-room hotel.

What are you doing to promote Gabala as a tourist destination and to attract visitors to Azerbaijan in general?

We contribute to this goal in different ways. First of all, we are developing the tourist infrastructure of Gabala. In addition to the six hotels we operate there, we built an amusement park called Qabaland. We have also started the construction of a large, enclosed aqua park, right in front of Qabaland. We are planning the construction of another hotel, a 220-room, three-star hotel, which will be located beside the aqua park, and which is scheduled to open in 2015. Moreover, we are planning a golf resort approximately two kilometers from Qabaland. In June 2014, we are aiming to open a boutique mountain resort hotel in Tufandag with 50 to 52 rooms. Furthermore, we participate in the largest tourism fairs in the world, such as the ITB in Berlin and FITUR in Madrid, where we represent not only Qafqaz Hotels and Gilan Tourism, but also Azerbaijan and Gabala. We also establish international partnerships whenever possible to promote ourselves and our tourist destinations abroad and benefit from the know-how developed in other countries. For example, in order to improve the ski center in Gabala, we contracted the services of the TTI tour operator in Turkey, which has visited the resort already and with which we are working on finalizing an agreement. We have already opened a branch of Gilan Tourism in Egypt, which we are hoping will act as a bridge to attract tourists from Egypt and other Arab countries to Gabala. Furthermore, we have a very good partnership with Kuwait-Azeri, a company that brings groups of tourists from Kuwait to Azerbaijan. For example, we are expecting two groups of 317 tourists in total from Kuwait to visit us in April and May 2014.

The Gabala region has a rich history and beautiful nature, but more infrastructure is needed to make it into an attractive tourist destination. Right now, we are working to attract tourists, particularly from the GCC region, on hunting trips to Gabala. I believe that, in a short time, Gabala will become internationally recognized as a tourist destination. In early 2014, we met with the Committee of the European Games and reached an agreement to host the incoming athletes and visitors, which guarantees us a 70% occupancy rate during the games in 2015.



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