Being rich of natural resources Azerbaijan found its niche in the sphere of medical tourism. Along with conventional healthcare, alternative methods of illness treatment and wellness promotion (e.g. thermal therapy, balneology etc) with the use of natural materials like crude oil, thermal waters, salt mines, salubrious mud became popular not only among the local population, but also foreign citizens visiting the country. This type of recreational tourism shows increased potential for further development.
Azerbaijan is a country rich of hot and mineral springs' birthplaces, thermal sulphur-hydrogen water sources and all types of mud volcanoes that are used for medical purposes. There are around 800 mud volcanoes existing in the world, 300 of which reside in Azerbaijan. The mud is used for treatment of radiculitis, skin, cardiovascular, gynecological, urological diseases, and gastrointestinal disturbances. It is also widely used in the cosmetology.
Another exceptional medical product of Azerbaijan is its well-known healing "Naftalan" oil which is considered a treatment for many diseases. Naftalan, the place of origin of this crude oil, is a famous balneotherapeutic health resort well-known for its oil baths. The first specialised resort complex was established here in 1926. The production of Naftalan ointment dates even earlier to the end of 19th century, when a German engineer established a small ointment production enterprise here.
Azerbaijan is also known for its salt mines used for asthma therapy. The most popular one is called "Duzdagh Cave" (salty mountain cave) located in Nakhchivan. There are over-and underground treatment premises located 300 meters below sea level. The Cave is rich with sodium chloride ions which are useful for treatment of bronchial asthma, hay fever, bronchitis, rhinitis and other respiratory organs diseases.
Becoming a popular place for recreational tourism, Azerbaijan attracts more tourists. It is worth to mention that the number of tourists coming for medical treatment has increased in last ten years and amounted 46 220 tourists in 2013. This shows the great potential for further development of recreational tourism in Azerbaijan.