In spite of war and virus: Armenia's attempt to reboot tourism
Armenia is trying to save the tourism industry despite the coronavirus epidemic and the second Karabakh war, which took place in the fall of 2020.
For this, according to the country’s industry experts, it is necessary to radically change the country’s image in the world and launch an aggressive marketing campaign. They believe that without the restoration of the tourism sector, it will be difficult to revive the economy as a whole.
In January-September 2020, according to the Tourism Committee, the number of tourist visits to Armenia decreased by 75.5% compared to the same period in 2019.
Before the coronavirus pandemic began, tourist traffic was projected to grow 15%.
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What do the experts suggest?
“It is necessary to appear to the world in a new format, not to concentrate on war and post-war problems. This will be the best response to the situation that has arisen”, said the former chairwoman of the State Tourism Committee Zarmine Zeytuntsyan on February 5.
Armenia, according to her, is not the first country that has gone through war, therefore, the experience of other states that faced the same problem and solved it can be borrowed. And an aggressive marketing campaign to change the country’s recognition in the world can help in this:
“We are constantly proud that Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity. However, only we know about it. It is necessary to use the existing cultural and historical potential”.
In addition, the country is taking practical steps to solve the problems that have accumulated in the service sector. In particular, the American University of Armenia has initiated a one-year educational programme in the field of hotel business management.
Special courses in accounting, management, English and mathematics will be organized for those employed in the tourism sector without an academic education. The project participants will also receive specialized knowledge in guest marketing, corporate communication and strategic planning.
How to double tourist flows?
In order to double the tourist flows to Armenia by 2024, it is necessary to implement a comprehensive program, the chairman of the Armenian Tourism Federation Mekhak Apresyan believes:
- carry out institutional reforms
- improve the competitive environment
- to pursue an aggressive marketing state policy using the potential of the diaspora
For these purposes, according to Mekhak Apresyan, it is advisable to annually allocate only 1% of the amount that tourism pays to the treasury in the form of taxes, that is, about $3 million.
He is confident that the tourism sector has been more affected by the coronavirus pandemic:
“The sphere needs to be restored as soon as possible in order to prevent collapse. It is necessary to understand that the tourism sector is one of the catalysts for the country’s economy. And there is no way forward without it.”
And after the war, tourists need to feel that it is safe to vacation in Armenia, says Apresyan:
“It is important to do everything in order not to be included in the list of countries undesirable for tourist visits after the war.”