According to official figures, introduced by Mekhak Apresyan, head of Tourism Department of the Ministry of Economy of RA, incoming tourism declined by 1% in the year of 2015 as compared with the year of 2014.
“The decline is mainly conditioned by the decrease of visits from Russia, the cause being the devaluation of ruble. Generally speaking, since last year the extent of outgoing tourism from Russia has drastically declined,” stated Apresyan adding that the number of tourists arriving from UAE, Iran, Iraq, Spain to Armenia have increased.
According to Apresyan the interest of tourists towards Armenia is growing.
According to the economist taking part in the discussion Artak Manukyan, last year an increase should be recorded in the sphere of tourism instead of decline, since three important events took place in our country, namely the visit of Kim Kardashyan, events of 100th Anniversary of Genocide and PanArmenian Games.
“The economic hardships of Russia is also less of a problem with Armenia, since the visits of Russian tourists to neighboring Georgia haven't decreased,” opposed Manukyan.
By way of comparison it should be mentioned that last year approximately 1,18 million tourists visited Armenia, and 5,8 million tourists to Georgia. Each year about 400 thousand US dollars are allocated for tourism from the state budget of Armenia. This sphere is declared as the prevailing branch of economy.
However one of issues of the Armenian tourism is the instability of diversification. Referring to the official statistics Manukyan mentioned that about 70% of tourists arriving at Armenia have Armenian roots and their visit to their motherland is conditioned by their Armenian origin.
“This is a short-term impact, since after one generation those visits will decline even more. In addition, the majority of them come to Armenia and stay at their relatives' place. They do not use hotel services. If this takes a significant period of time, it is doubtful what the money spent is for,” said Manukyan and Mekhak Apresyan disagreed with his opinion.
At the same time Apresyan did not introduce distinct statistic data on the number of tourists who live in hotels upon their arrival in Armenia. He mentioned only that the funds spent in this sphere enhance the development and growth of tourism. As Apresyan assured up to 10% growth was recorded for the previous years.
As per the official records out of 12 million tourists who arrived in Armenia in 2014, only 164 thousand (or 13,7%) of them used accommodation facilities. In 2015 1 million and 189 thousand tourists arrived, out of whom again 164 thousand (13,8%) stayed at hotels. The same source, the national statistical service, differentiates also the number of those living at their relatives' places, or renting apartments. Thus only 14% of international tourists use the hotel services.
The participant of the discussion Tigran Achoyan, the head of Aviatrans company referring to civil aviation and the tourism issues thereto mentioned that the policy of Open sky stated in Armenia, as a result of which 5 Russian air companies work only for one direction Yerevan-Moscow-Yerevan, created a new situation.
A new air company is entering the market, Armenian, however the future of the latter is not clear, since at the terms of created conditions the company cannot hope for state funding or quotas.
“Let's live and see,” this is how he characterized the future of the new air company, adding that in the event of the Open Sky policy it will be difficult for the company to operate.
The participants of the discussion mentioned that affected by the cancellation of sanctions against Iran an opportunity is created to somehow unite Armenia-Georgia-Iran tourism markets, create united tour-packages.
We would like to recall that the idea was also expressed at one of the discussions arranged by the Media Center several weeks ago on the topic of cancellation of international sanctions against Iran.