Duzdag Salt Mine: Heaven Of Medical Tourism In Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan – OpEd

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Doubtless, everyone has right to travel, since good travelling provides the recreation necessity of people, recently its being a phenomenon isn’t surprising. Tourism causing economy growth, inspiring people to demonstrate favorable actions with all its positive aspects have become most active standard of life of billions of people.

Tourism is the luxury of our time and everyone has full right to benefit by this luxury. Regarding this we have full confidence that, maybe not today, but any elementary contribution to tourism in the world, sure will be a very valuable present for the future generation. Gaining health care of travelers along with outlook increase, enrichment of tolerant feelings are said to be the wish of individuals and also governments organizing the travelling of the people with the modest income and inclusively important travelling together with a social tourism promotion is the shortest way to achieve own goals.

Tourism and social responsibility

What is a social tourism? But why to approach to the social tourism through the window of social responsibility? To answer this question is possible via several arguments. Nowadays the mentioned social tourism is the best means against social exclusion in the world [1]. One of the vital principles of sustainable development of society is not differing people due to their incomes. At the present moment everyone easily witnesses different strikes arisen from various crises in the world by low paid people either openly or hidden. In accordance with this different projects of various purposes focused to discharge the accumulated negative energy in society was easily seen in the fifties when Europe perfomed the importance of social tourism [2].

The main differentiating feature of this broadly spread tourism in the Western and Eastern Europe is the source of its financing. Through this tourism category state undertakes an obligation in front of its citizens and provides their travelling rights [3]. Today along with commercial travellings social tours possess important segments as well. Nevertheless the date of bias social tours starts from the second half of the XIX century, but later on, especially, after World War II the spread and populism of this tourism could prevail among people and thus for making it “tourism for all” afterwards it was called as social tourism. As a result it became the best model in providing the social travelling necessity of the low paid people (in our sample medical tourism) and turned criterion of life quality [4].

It is advisable to note that even this type of travelling in Soviet time covered some categories of low paid people such as: pensioners, jobless persons, students, agricultural collective farm workers etc. who from time to time were engaged to the tour of social importance. At that time there were tours of treatment, greetings, ecotourism importance which subjected to different ages who had performed good results in labor activity or education in parallel.

All these occurred in the time when comfortable commercial tours didn’t widely cover the former USSR and even its propaganda wasn’t suitable. There was a time that hard working people in the plants, factories, collective farms, schools were sent to Crimea (Artek) of Ukraine which has been annexed by Russia, the regions of Kalbajar and Garabagh currently under occupation of Armenia, either completely unpaid or partially paid to provide their rest-recreation to some extend in 1970-1980 years. We have to confess that modern tourism, especially social tourism, is the product of stability and economic development. So that its development is linked to social and economic development of nations and can only be possible if a man has access to creative rest and holidays and enjoys freedom to travel within the framework of free and leisure time whose profoundly human character is underlined. Its existence and development entirely depends on the existence of a state of lasting peace, to which tourism is required to contribute [5]. Doubtless, the more economy develops, financial opportunities are extending the more social tourism payments will be easier and possible respectively. Sure, for this purpose, there are different sources.

In developed countries there are four types of financial sources of investment in social tourism; grant credit state, the National House of family allowances (NCC) or locally from the House Family Allowance (CAF), or funds from to individuals or loans of financial organizations [6]. But from different firms or funds in developed countries for now to expect such initiatives is very seldom and it causes to seek alternative ways; because people are interested to ensure their personal health. Through traveling and for this purpose they are ready to profit by any chance given to them. The physiological, social, economic and environmental impacts of tourism are so powerful that the right to travel and tourism have been incorporated in key international documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, the World Tourism Organization’s Manila Declaration on World Tourism of 1980, Bill of Rights and Tourist Code of 1985 and the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism of 1999. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has two passages that underpin the right to travel: articles 13 (2) and 24. Article 13 (2) states ‘‘everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country’’ [7].

It is known that the organizing of social tourism is much more compared with a factor of social responsibility of economic factors. No secret that our present time is better known as the culture being shared among people more than ever and in this context sharing of tourism possibilities with the world, especially making people understand that natural recourses of treatment are of important concern to all mankind throughout the world, it should be understood as the highest culture that could exist today. To understand it and to take solid measures in this direction is the example of the greatest and deepest social responsibility. To take concrete measures after understanding the above touched responsibility belongs to the World Tourism Organization, Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as has been stated in the article 7 of the right to tourism: “social tourism, and in particular associative tourism, which facilitates widespread access to leisure, travel and holidays, should be developed with the support of the public authorities” and also to create suitable atmosphere for family, youth, students, adults and physically disabled people participating in mass tourism in order to isolate anyone for economic condition is beyond humanist principles.


Currently among potential tourists there are a large number of segments interested in social tours offered to make use of treatment-recreation resources. It is possible to arrive at this kind of idea without differing countries and continents that the Earth planet is rich with all kinds of natural resources said to be useful for human health. Very likely, the level of their usage impacts to the number of tourist and destination choice definitely. In other word, besides social responsibility understanding, starting from the difficulties created by natural condition and its solution till the simplest management questions, everything should be settled in a complex form, nothing else more.

But if the nature has gifted various resources for human health and there is a stable economic growth in a country, then any issue solution should be approached in an optimist way. On the ground of natural resources in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (Azerbaijan) the development of social tourism may be overviewed in two stages. First, it is a very interesting fact that this region situated on the Southern slopes of the Lesser Caucasus with a territory 5.5 thousand km2 possesses a great deal of resources of treatment and healing importance. There are more than 250 mineral water sources majority of which are of treatment importance and are very famous among regional countries. But second, Duzdag Physiotherapy Center is much more attractive for its property of Speleoteraphy importance. So that, speleoteraphy (in Greek “speleo” means “cave”) is a rear method of treatment used in the cave condition [8]. The purpose of this investigation is to learn the medical tourism in the region by using medical features of Duzdag and to study the ways of social tourism extension on the ground of this. Having social tourism experience of Nakhchivan in the past and also medical tourism resources richness in this area, new necessary information was gathered on the basis of new development and marketing prism. As a result of this every year more than 400 thousand tourists from the other regions of Azerbaijan and foreign countries come to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Medical tourism, their principles of sustainability, the possibility of its promotion by state initiative has been learned from different sources. The analysis of experience of the countries was carried out, social load of the first investigations in this field was considered and different data were accumulated for this. Social tourism isn’t only the social responsibility of a state, but also the possible contributions by private sectors were considered through the domestic means of a developing country. Also the factors could impact to the cave treatment positively or negatively was considered, the impression of the tourists have taken treatment here were well trained doctors’ observations were generalized. SWOT analysis of social tourism organizing and management within local demands frame was carried out.

It was considered vital because furthermore planning of Duzdag strong laterals to develop more than and weak points correction to be restored due to the landmark offers.

The priorities of the investigation were as follows:

– Learning the travelling requirements of people, especially certain group of sensitive people;
– Learning the efficiency of state initiative for social tourism;
– Learning the possibilities of branding of Duzdag as a tourism destination;
– Overview its long-term opportunities in the future.

Duzdag. Speleotherapy

The word “Duzdag” consists of two components. The first component “Duz” has the meaning of “Salt”, but the second component “Dag” means “Rock”. The area is situated at 11 km. distance from the city of Nakhchivan with about 100 thousand people to the North-West.

There are huge NaCl salt deposits to have been naturally formed million years before. The mentioned salt with some hundred of million tons of capacity has been extracting for more than two thousand years. Considering this, Duzdag is of value to see, to walk and to admire. Nakhchivan being on the historical Silk Way crossroad this salt was extracted to be used in daily life and agricultural as well. According to the historians this very rock salt was carried to thousands of kilometers distance from here by camel caravans [9]. There are various interesting stories among local people connected with salt, its treatment (healing) magic. In its part this rock salt had a great role in forming a town building culture of 5 thousand years ago. All this has been proved and approved by international archeological expedition finds in this area during excavation and above all the discovered material-cultural samples could justify all hopes around this issue [10].

Starting from the fifties of the XX century the salt began to be produced in a wide scale form by industrial way to provide the chemical industry with raw materials and as a result of what such huge caves appeared in the hundred meters in depth where a large number of people could shelter at once. Thereafter spelo-therapy invention, namely, the method of asthmatic diseases treatment in salt mines Duzdag became famous for its treatment importance [11].

Salt and recreation

Already more than 50 years asthmatic diseases have been treating by spelotherapy methods in Duzdag. Generally there are so many facts related to the medical importance of salt. One knows that there are a lot of countries in the world as America, Europe, some countries not far from Azerbaijan as Romany, Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and others where there are places of mine methods of treatment. But despite the former USSR period, the organizations of treatment opportunities in Duzdag have completely changed from good to the better [12].

The carried observations and learned the past practice prove that majority of the patients visiting here are either from the coastal countries or from the high humidity climate regions. Sure, there are also people in Azerbaijan living in coastal regions and high humidity climate areas suffering from asthmatic diseases. Though among them there are people needn’t any extra social concession and they easily can make a reservation in a five star modern hotel near Duzdag cave that has the same name, they can pass the night in the rooms considered for VIP clients in the cave, respectively. But not everyone visiting here, especially children have material opportunities.

Therefore all kinds of treatment courses due to the ages (12-18 days) and medical service, to spend the nights in the cave and other expenses are unpaid for the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan. And starting from 2012 this kind of service is subjected to the underage and middle aged children (about one hundred) from the developing country Georgia regularly and this unpaid medical course is a good example from social tourism management point of view not only for internal tourism but also international tourism indeed. In the best meaning of a word such a social responsibility example for the region of a developing country maybe submitted as a successful pilot project for the authority of a state.
Thus, despite social conviction of the citizens visiting here or their being state employers or private sector workers the considered treatment is the same for all. We have full confidence that considering the source of income determining the social status of people ensures the efficiency of treatment and also recreation. When meeting the patients in the cave of Duzdag, having talk with them one can easily feel their happiness and satisfaction. It means that there is nothing better than restored health in the world.

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Cite this paper: Ali Jabbarov, Zulfugar Zulfugarov, Social Tourism in Duzdag, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic within the Republic of Azerbaijan: Resources, Planning and Development, American Journal of Tourism Management, Vol. 4 No. 1, 2015, pp. 1-6. doi: 10.5923/j.tourism.20150401.01.

Ali Jabbarov

Ali Jabbarov is an author, journalist and a university professor in field of tourism studies and international affairs. He is the author of many articles published in various newspapers of Azerbaijan and Europe.

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