Ketu ry

Evaluation of the Azerbaijan project

December 10th, 2017

The evaluation team along with two Azerbaijan Tourism University students who volunteered as guides during a walk through the Old City in Baku.

In November, an evaluation team visited Azerbaijan to familiarize themselves with the development of the project strategy, the stakeholders involved in the project as well as Quba – a region at the foot of the Caucasus mountains recently included in the scope of the project. The team consisted of a colourful mix of representatives from universities of applied sciences, the entrepreneurial private sector and NGOs, giving the evaluation a wide perspective.

The week-long journey started in the capital city of Baku, where the team met with representatives of the Azerbaijan Tourism University as well as teachers and students. Representatives of the national tourism association were also present along with Aytan Poladova of the Ekoloji Tarazliq NGO – an established coordinator involved with the project. The focus of the meetings were the steps taken during the past year to further the development of rural tourism in Azerbaijan – of which the development of a national standard for rural tourism operators being developed by the tourism ministry in order to standardise and raise the level of rural tourism services and products and the planned year-long educational programme in various rural areas around the country to develop the capacity of rural citizens to engage with the tourism industry merit special mention.



The goal of the project is to further the development of sustainable tourism in the rural regions of Azerbaijan as well as support and encourage entrepreneurship among rural women. Such entrepreneurship usually ties heavily into the making and selling of traditional handicrafts and homestay-style accommodation. Even though several regions around Azerbaijan are included in the project, the evaluation was primarily aimed at the recently added region of Quba. In Quba, the team was hosted by the coordinator of the local tourism resource center Eynulla Xeyrullayev, who introduced the various developmental initiatives in the region. One such initiative is the establishment of a new cultural center for exhibitions and courses to transfer knowhow to younger generations.. Local handicraft entrepreneurs will also be able to sell their wares through the center.




Like many other regions around Azerbaijan, Quba has it’s own specific focus in handicrafts – carpets. The team visited a local carpet weaving workshop which exemplifies many of the aims of the project; entrepreneurship among women, furthering equality and preservation and promotion of local cultural traditions. Local women weave carpets in the workshop using patterns and images based on a year-long period of research where they visited villages in the region to search for, catalogue and photograph old carpets. The workshop also engages significantly in education in Quba and the surrounding villages. The team had the opportunity to travel to the mountain village of Alpan where a new training center had recently been constructed with USAID-funding, giving sixty young Alpan residents the opportunity to study handicraft techniques. The workshop plans to expand its educational and entrepreneurial efforts to cooking classes and culinary tourism, which the evaluation team thought would be an excellent strategy.

At the carpet weaving workshop in Quba.










At the training center in Alpan.


Towards the end of the trip, the evaluation team returned to Baku. The discussion that began in Quba regarding a proposed packaged travel product continued in Baku amidst the last wrap-up meetings. The development, implementation and afterwards, evaluation of this proposed test of a rural tourism product was deemed to be of great importance as the project moves into its next phase – the implementation of the strategy drafted during the past year. Among the areas of development are the creation of turism products and service concepts and the networking and cooperation of operators in the tourism industry. The evaluation team sees great potential for the future of the project – especially in the Quba region – as much of the infrastructure necessitated by the development of rural tourism is already in place.

Pictures: Kaisa Merilahti, Johannes Paavola
Text: Johannes Paavola

New publications

July 27th, 2017


KeTu’s project ‘Development of Sustainable Tourism and Support of Local Handicrafts in the Rural Azerbaijan’ has released two new publications in English.

Tourism student Anna Viirelä from Kajaani University of Applied Sciences wrote her Bachelor’s thesis on marketing prerequisites of rural Azerbaijan’s traditional handicrafts. You can read the thesis here.

In addition, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences made a joint online publication focusing on internationalization topics.  The publication includes an article with the topic ‘How to combine a R&D project with Erasmus+ mobility – case Azerbaijan’. You can find the publication here.

The project is implemented in cooperation between Sustainable Future NGO, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) and Ekoloji Tarazliq NGO (EKOT) as the local partner.


Promoting women entrepreneurship in rural handicrafts

July 27th, 2017

KeTu’s project in Azerbaijan supports women handicraft makers to develop their businesses and earn more income by selling the traditional azeri handicraft to tourists in rural areas. Here you can find some photos of the women involved in the project activities together with the project staff members.







The upper photos are taken in Guba which is located in the Northern part of Azerbaijan. The lowest picture is taken in Kokolos-village in Astara region in South of Azerbaijan.


Photos: Aytan Poladova, project coordinator in Azerbaijan


Experience of teacher involved in Azerbaijan project

May 23rd, 2017


I had the pleasure of becoming involved in the project “Development of Sustainable Tourism and Support of Local Handicrafts in the Rural Azerbaijan” already in 2015, when I was teaching a group of Finnish and International business students a basic course in strategic marketing management.

We gave the students the task to create a strategic marketing plan for developing sustainable rural tourism in Azerbaijan. A rather challenging assignment since the students did not know much about the country. The project however went quite well and the marketing plans we made were well received by the project management team.

The “Azerbaijan Project” continued for me in 2017 when I was given the opportunity to go on Erasmus+ funded teacher exchange to the Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University in Baku.
Because of the project we decided that the topic of my lecturing would be sustainable tourism in general but with some focus on Azerbaijan.

The lecturing consisted of four 80 min lectures for four different groups of first and second year students. Each group consisted of 15-20 students from the English language program.
In addition to the lectures in sustainable tourism I also had an opportunity to take part in a seminar and workshop on sustainable rural tourism in Azerbaijan. I gave a lecture on marketing planning in general and how the theories can be applied to marketing sustainable rural tourism. After the lecture the participants, which mostly were students from the university, did some group works, were they could apply some of the theories.

In spite of some minor challenges with scheduling and other practical matters, I think that combining teacher exchange and this project was an interesting experiment and a great experience for me and it was hopefully beneficial for all stakeholders.

The concept is well worth developing further. However, careful and thorough planning, preparation and good communication between all the stakeholders is a prerequisite for best possible outcome.

Text: Jan Mitts, lecturer in Tourism, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences


International Week at KAMK – New plans for the Azerbaijan project

March 10th, 2017


After bureaucratic problems, the activities of “Sustainable Tourism in Azerbaijan” project are finally starting in the target regions. To support the project goals, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) and Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University (ATMU) have applied and received Erasmus+ funding. The funding enables the student and staff mobility between the institutions.

KAMK organized International Week for partner universities on 20-24 February 2017. Ms Gahira Mammadova, Head of Research, from ATMU participated the event. Together we planned new activities and cooperation. The first KAMK students will go for Erasmus exchange to ATMU in Autumn 2017 semester. Those two Tourism students will also contribute to the project implementation and reporting to Finland. Lecturer in Tourism, Jan Mitts, from KAMK will go for teacher exchange to ATMU in April 2017 and give a workshop in strategic marketing planning for the project participants and stakeholders. Preparing a strategic marketing plan for the Rural Tourism in Azerbaijan is one of the project’s main objectives.


As a part of the International Week, a round table discussion was held with the topic of “Best practices and lessons learned”. The project manager Kaisa Merilahti gave a presentation about “How to combine R&D project with Erasmus+ mobility” using the case example of Azerbaijan. Combining the two different frameworks will hopefully give us sustainable results in our cooperation.

Ms Gahira Mammadova meeting KAMK Tourism students.

Ms Gahira Mammadova meeting KAMK Tourism students.


Text and photos: Kaisa Merilahti

Exploring Azerbaijan

November 15th, 2016

Meeting people involved in tourism and handicrafts in Sheki.

Last week Anna Viirelä, Tourism student from Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK), visited Azerbaijan. She got to know more about Azerbaijani culture from the aspect of traditional handicrafts in the country’s capital city called Baku and in one of the rural areas called Sheki. Particularly the idea is to write a thesis about local handicrafts’ marketing requirements through purchasing process. The trip lasted one week, but more than enough material was gathered thanks to own activity, KAMK’s Project Manager Kaisa Merilahti and Azerbaijani hospitality.

Çox sağ ol!





Coloring silk with traditional methods in Sheki.


Text: Anna Viirelä
Photos: Kaisa Merilahti

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