Azerbaijan’s government has asked hotels in its capital city Baku to hold off on selling rooms for the dates of the Cop29 climate talks in November, raising fears of price hikes.
An employee of the Radisson Baku hotel told Climate Home in an email that they are not selling rooms at the moment at the request of the government-controlled State Tourism Agency. Climate Home has heard of at least another potential customer receiving the same response.
Online listings show no rooms available at several international hotel chains including the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Ibis, Mercure, Radisson Blu and Sheraton. Other hotels appear to have availability.
The potential customer, who did not want to be named, told Climate Home: “Unfortunately, this is becoming the rule as Cops turn into a global circus with massive attendance”.
The head of Climate Action Network International Tasneem Essop told Climate Home that this was “worrying, if the result will be something similar to what happened in Egypt, where they pushed up prices so dramatically, making it unaffordable especially for civil society groups”.
Price gouging precedents
At the Cop27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Egyptian Hotel Association told hotels to set a minimum price of $120 a night for two-star hotels and $500 a night for five-star hotels.
Many guests had their bookings cancelled, sometimes when guests arrived, and were then quoted much higher prices by the same hotels.
It’s not clear if Azerbaijan’s State Tourism Agency intends to set a minimum price and they did not respond to a request for comment.
Essop said she hoped their intention of the move was to “ensure a good diversity of affordability”.
Referring to Egypt and Azerbaijan, the potential Radisson customer said that “of course it is a matter of concern that authoritarian countries seize on the opportunity to make extra money at the expense of inclusivity”.
But, they added, “let’s not forget that both landlords and hotels also cancelled reservations to hike prices in Glasgow in 2021 [at Cop26]”. Many delegates had to stay 45 miles away in Edinburgh or pay £181 ($228) a night for a bunk bed in a dormitory in Glasgow.