The National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia recently announced an increase in the number of foreign tourists who visited the country in 2016 by 5.7% from 2015 to 1,259,657 people. Zarmine Zeytuntsyan, Chair of the State Tourism Committee, said that out of more than 2,867,000 people visiting Armenia last year, 1,259,657 people were seeking leisure activities.
Russians and Iranians count as the top contributors to the aforementioned number of tourists, followed by visitors from the UAE, China, and Croatia.
“We have all the necessary conditions to turn Armenia into a tourist attraction,” Zeytuntsyan told the press, optimistic that the number will continue to grow in the next years, despite drawbacks like lack of infrastructures, poor road conditions, and absence of public toilets.
The country adopted an “Open Sky” program inviting more than 67 airline companies to Armenia, Zeytuntsyan said, confident in the positive results of such an initiative. But she also stressed out the importance of programs that would promote religious tourism, rural tourism, and eco-tourism:
“We must introduce such mechanisms to enable each community to benefit from the tourist. This is my version of the tourism development. A tourist should not spend his/her money only in a hotel or restaurant. We will achieve great success through rural tourism, ecotourism and the presentation of the Armenian traditions.”
According to Zeytuntsyan, one of the main strategies of the State Tourism Committee for 2017 is spreading attractive information about Armenia on a variety of platforms of diaspora, because the majority of tourists visiting the country are from diaspora – like people returning to the country to get acquainted with their roots, history, and traditions. To this point, religious tourism programs are already in work, according to the Chair of State Tourism Committee Says cited by Panorama.
Later in March, Armenian and French presidents, Serzh Sargsyan and Francois Hollande will meet to discuss joint programs, and Sargsyan will also meet with French entrepreneurs in various fields to demonstrate the investment appeal of the country.
Also, in efforts to make Armenia’s tourism potential appealing to the world, the Armenian American Business Council will participate in the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show on February 18-19, 2017 – Asbarez reported.