Tourism in Armenia: Challenges and Prospects
Armenia attracts tourists and has great prospects for tourism development. Yet the country fails to present at all or at a proper level its big potential. Though tourism has been declared a priority sector in Armenia and though the inflow of travelers is growing with every passing year, nevertheless, many challenges remain unaddressed, namely the lack of information about the places of interest, logistics problems, as well as expensive air tickets.

A Yerevan-Moscow video conference at the Media Center covered tourism problems. Irina Shchegolkova, Spokesperson for the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism), said that the inflow of the Russian tourists to Armenia is mostly a natural phenomenon. She noted that in 2014 the number of Russia’s visitors to Armenia was by 11% higher than in 2013. “But only an intangible part of the Russian tourists spend their vacations in Armenia, i.e. only few of them receive tour packages and visit various places of interest. Most of the tourists visit Yerevan for a few days only and then go back to Russia,” said Shchegolkova.

For her part, Irina Tyurina, Spokeswoman for the Russian Union of Travel Industry, thinks that the Russian tour operators have rather little information of the sightseeing attractions in Armenia. In the meantime, she believes that at the moment the flow from Russia to Armenia can be increased amid the deterioration of the Russia-West relations and many Russians’ reluctance to visit Europe.

Tyurina said that Armenia will also be able to attract more travelers from Russia by allowing Russians to enter the republic without any international passports the way Belarus does. She suggested settling this problem at the level of the two countries’ governments.

Gohar Aloyan, representative of the Armenian Economy Ministry, said that following the collapse of the USSR, Armenia gave higher priority to attracting travelers from Europe. “However, we have lost the Russian tourists but we will try to regain their interest in the near future,” she said.

Robert Minasyan, Director of the Armenian Institute of Tourism, stressed the need to enhance the tour operators’ role and the degree of their responsibility. He pointed out that the growth in the inflow of tourists will increase the air carriages and considerably reduce the prices of the air tickets. “Consistent measures are needed in this dimension,” said Minasyan.

Nune Manukyan, Director of the Areni Fest Foundation, pointed out the need to kindle the tourists’ interest with new initiatives, interesting events and attractive tour packages. On the other hand, it is hard to get all this information over to the Russian tourists. She said that very often she personally writes to the tour operators, informing them of certain events or festivals, but the Russian companies show no proper response.

Arshaluis Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator

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