Economic Cooperation Organization


Directorate for Tourism is tasked as responsible the ECO Secretariat’s body for initiation, implementation and monitoring of the ECO activities in tourism sector. This unit is the also responsible to pursue the expected outcomes envisaged under priority 4 (Tourism) of ECO Vision 2025. Treaty of Izmir (Article II, para “n”) identifies to further strengthen historical and cultural ties among the peoples of the ECO region as well as exchanges in the field of tourism to enhance regional cooperation in this sphere.

In line with the above-mentioned objectives, the Directorate for Tourism is following initiatives in the below areas for promotion of tourism in the region:

• branding, marketing and promotion

• travel and tourism facilitation

• diversification of tourism products and services

• human resource and capacity building for increase of the quality of the tourism services

• quality development and harmonization of rules and procedures for sustainability of the natural and cultural environment

• digitalization

• investment generation and facilitation

• private sector and local community involvement in tourism activities

The Directorate initiated partnership with the relevant international partners, including UN World Tourism Organization, UNIDO and GSTC to ensure timely and effective achievements of the goals and objectives envisaged in the ECO Vision 2025.



Tourism potential of the ECO Region

The ECO Region is well-known for its natural beauty, as well as diversity of its historical-cultural heritage, echoing the memoires of the ancient Silk Road and home to 86 UNESCO registered World Heritage Sites. The Member Countries have a lot more to offer in terms of culture, pilgrimage, ecotourism, health and wellness, gastronomy and other types of tourism, all of which could target tourists from different parts of the world.

During the last decade, international travel to the ECO region exceeded 87 million people, holding a total of 6% share in worldwide tourism arrivals in 2019. Considering the region’s potential and population, the ratio between tourist arrivals and total international tourism expenditures is still relatively modest and there is a need for increased regional cooperation to have the optimum use of all available resources to augment regional tourism. Taking these objectives in mind, tourism sector was placed among one of the ECO’s important areas of interest, prioritized for development under the ECO Vision 2025.

Unfortunately, tourism sector has remained one of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimations made by the ECO Secretariat indicate that the tourist arrivals to the region shrank by 73% in 2020 and the tourism receipts decreased by 67%. Although there was a modest recovery in 2021, with tourist arrivals increasing by around 50 percent compared to 2020, it still fell short of the levels seen in 2019. In 2022, the recovery of the tourism industry continued and it was estimated that over 70 million tourists visited the ECO region. Türkiye (50.45 million), Uzbekistan (5.23 million), Kazakhstan (4.73 million) and Iran (4.11 million) are the leading member states in terms of the number of visitors. Although the number of international tourists keeps rising in 2023, public and private stakeholders at both national and regional levels must keep working together for enhancement of regional travel. 

Recent activities

The 5th ECO Ministerial Meeting on Tourism held on 5 October 2023 in Ardabil, Iran adopted the Ardabil Declaration by the ECO Member States acknowledging the economic and social benefits of sustainable tourism development and committing the enhancement of the region’s tourism potential. The meeting also selected the city of Shusha from Azerbaijan as the ECO Tourism Capital for 2026.  

In the recent years, the ECO introduced an initiative of selecting the cities of the Member States that have a rich historical heritage and great tourism potential as the ECO Tourism Capital for each year to facilitate sustainable development of tourism as well as improvement of local economies in the host city. The inaugural discussions on the initiative were held during the 3rd ECO Ministerial Meeting on Tourism in 2019 in Khujand, Tajikistan. The event designated Dushanbe as the first ECO Tourism Capital for 2020-2021, followed by the proclamation of Sari city of Iran as ECO Tourism Capital for 2022. In April 2023 ECO inaugurated the ceremony for the proclamation of another Iranian city – Ardabil as ECO Tourism Capital for 2023. The city of Shakhrisabz in Uzbekistan was selected as ECO Tourism Capital for 2024. In addition, the beautiful cities of Erzurum in Türkiye and Shusha in Azerbaijan will be ECO Tourism Capitals for 2025 and 2026 respectively.

The ECO Tour Operators’ Network was established as an outcome of the 1st Forum of the ECO Heads of Tourism Associations held on 20 June 2022. Nowadays the Network unites more than 350 tour operators and tourism agencies from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is a platform for sharing and refining ideas on actions, as well as a mechanism for acting together with a collective voice to promote the region through preparation of joint regional tour packages to attract the intending travelers/tourists towards various areas of tourism that could benefit all partners in tourism destinations.


Director and Staff

 Mr. Jasur Rajabov (Uzbek National)
Director for Tourism
Tel: + 98 (21)-22831733-34

Mr. Hasan Tufan (Turkish National)
Programme Officer
Tel: + 98 (21)-22831733-34

 Mr. Seyed Mohammad Hadi Ghaderi (Iranian National)
Programme Officer
Tel: + 98 (21)-22831733-34


Mr. Naimat Ullah (Pakistani National)
Desk Officer
Tel: + 98 (21)-22831733-34



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Member Countries