Tourism is developing in Armenia but the Problems Still Remain
Though the tourism field develops in Armenia and the number of tourists visiting Armenia has grown for 2, 4% during the first six months of this year compared to the same period of the previous year, the problems in this sector still arise. They are the lack of funding of state policy, improper state of the infrastructures, lack of human resources and the issues related to the availability of Armenia for tourists.

“The number of incoming tourist arrivals in the last six months was more than 501 thousand, which is 2.4 percent more than during the same period of last year. Domestic tourism also showed an increase, there is 20.8% growth in six months compared to the same period of last year,” Mekhak Apresyan, Head of Department of Tourism Development Policy of RA Ministry of Economy, said. He added that the activities are underway in the field of international cooperation for development, and for domestic tourism life various events, traditional celebrations and festivals are organized.

Mekhak Apresyan and Nune Manukyan, Director of “Areni Fest” Foundation, participated in the discussion entitled “Tourism in Armenia: Problems and Perspectives” devoted to the International day of Tourism on September 27 at Media Center.

On October 1-4, the 38th session of the annual conference of the UN World Tourism Organization affiliated members will be held in Armenia. Apresyan considers this to be important achievement and an example of effective international cooperation. "Affiliated members differ from full members by the fact that full members represent the state in the face of their public administration authorities of the tourism industry, and affiliate members represent the private sector, various businesses, business units, media, educational institutions, and other similar organizations. They decided to organize their annual conference in Armenia,” he explains.  

Assurances from government officials about regional tourism development are part of the quite worrisome statistic image. In 2014, according to official figures, 2.3 million tourists visited Georgia, 2.2 million tourists visited Azerbaijan, and only 1.2 million tourists visited Armenia.  

As Nune Manukyan thinks, Armenia needs a much broader PR on abroad. Georgia conducts this very actively and spends a lot of money in that direction. "Georgia allocates about 12 million USD from the state budget for tourism development, and Armenia allocates 400 thousand USD," Manukyan said, adding that within that budget fairly enough work is carried out. "Armenia is like a landlady who tries to lay a very nice table without having anything," the speaker said.   

Nune Manukyan highlights the role of the state in the implementation of effective PR. "We really need very good PR as the challenges of the neighbors are very strong. Therefore, the state should have very serious attitude and, before demanding something, they should provide money. They are exhibitions, festivals, the money spent on tourism infrastructure, as well as steps to increase aircraft availability," she said.

She emphasized the importance of state assistance particularly in the organization of festivals fostering the development of communities and rural tourism. “Armenian potential is ecotourism, rural tourism,” she added. 

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

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