Christmas in Armenia is a mix of history, tradition, and religious belief. Years of life under the communist regime influenced celebrations too. [Read more…]
Last week at MITT 2016, Armenian Ambassador to Russia Oleg Yesayan attended the opening ceremony of Russia’s most important travel expo.
Visiting the Armenian booth at the Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition, Yesayan spoke with the team representing the 16 companies from Armenia and Artsakh, that were showcased with the support of the Armenian Development Agency.
Companies from the fields of tourism, aviation and online booking were represented at event at Expocentre Fairgrounds in Moscow including Go 2 Armenia (below).
MITT is Russia’s largest travel exhibition with over 1,800 participating companies from 198 destinations. In 2013, the event recorded an attendance of 37,000 visitors. This year’s booth by Armenia reflected the rich cultural, historical and Christian heritage via travel guides and direct contact with these various companies.
The Russian market is one of the target destinations of NCFA’s tourism promotion. Thus, Armenia’s participation in this travel show aims to increase the growth of inbound tourism flows from Russia, while maximizing the potential of Armenian-Russian cooperation in the tourism sector.
If a gorgeous diva, a gorgeous man, a striking voice, and a riveting song could help a competitor win Eurovision 2016, then Armenia’s Iveta Mukuchyan should be considered a top competitor in Stockholm. Her video of the song
“LoveWave” is unique among the 43 entries.
Coming to Stockholm May 10, 12, and 14th, Eurovision 2016 will feature artists of a bit higher caliber than in previous years. As for Iveta, the Yerevan born model, actress, and singer grew up in Hamburg. Having once appeared on the German variant of The Voice, she studied jazz-vocal at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory. Once named the sexiest Armenian by El Style magazine, Iveta has also starred alongside Mkrtich Arzumanyan in the adventurous comedy Run Away Or Get Married, which was just released this month.
Here is the Armenia diva singing LoveWave.
North Caucasus airline Grozny Avia will now fly to the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula in between Yerevan, and Crimea’s Simferopol.
Grozny Avia, named after Chechnya’s capital, conducts domestic flights within the Russian Federation. The new twice weekly flights are slated to begin late this month. Grozny Avia flew its first Crimea flights out of Simferopol to Istanbul hack in July.
One reason for the newly scheduled flights is reportedly political. According to reports, Yerevan recognized the Crimean referendum on showing support for Russia over the Ukraine turmoil. Sanctions and transitional problems for Crimea top a list of concerns Moscow has for the newly annexed territory.
According to news from Armenia’s Economic Ministry, some 35,000 Iranian tourists visited the country in the first half of this 2014. Over 495,000 tourists from Iran came to Armenia, an increase of some 17.3% compared to the same period last year.
Other numbers for Armenian visitation inlcuded; 44% of the tourists coming from Russia, 28% from Georgia, and 12-14% from the EU (Germany, France, Italy and Scandinavia), while Iran’s tourists represented about 7% of the total. Armenia and Iran have already unveiled plans to sign a memorandum on cooperation for mutual touristic benefit, according to the reports.
The head of the Department of Tourism at Armenia’s Ministry of Economy, Mekhak Apresyan, made this comment earlier this year:
“Iran is an important market for us. This country is not only our neighbor, but we have good neighborly relations with it, which is important for the sphere. Armenia is more accessible and affordable for them and with this new memorandum we will expand and intensify our cooperation in the sector.”
This 2008 paper (PDF) from the Economic Ministry tells of the potential for Armenia in this sector. The number of Iranian tourists, as a percentage, has actually risen less than the total number of Russian travelers according to the original Tourism Development Plan numbers from back then. Among the positives we now see though, the average number of days at 20 or more, this reflects a very positive revenue to marketing ratio. Repeat visitation also remains high, which is another positive sign. Areas of possibility include Winter vacationing, as well as MICE tourism.
For more information on Armenia, please take the time to visit the country’s tourism website.
In hotel news from Armenia, a new Hyatt property is slated to open in 2015. The Hyatt Jermuk will reportedly be an 88-room new-build hotel in the center of Jermuk Resort.
A mountain paradise, Jermuk is famous for its hot springs and health spa accommodations in the alpine part of Vayots Dzor province. Local artificial lakes, walking trails, health and wellness and even an international Chess center highlight this Armenian resort area.
When completed, the property will offer some 170 square meters of meeting spaces, contain an open market with made-to-order meals and snacks around the clock, an all-day dining restaurant, a fitness centre, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
Hyatt Place Jermuk will mark the second Hyatt-branded hotel in Armenia, joining the recently opened Hyatt Place Yerevan.
The hotel will also be an ideal base for guests to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage sites of Armenia, including the mountains of Vayots Dzor and the 1,000-year old Gndevank Monastery. Less than three hours away from the Armenian capital Yerevan, Jermuk regularly hosts international chess events, including the World Chess Federation Grand Prix tournaments.
News of Armenia’s national airline Armavia going into bankruptcy proceedings took another twist today as rumors surface the fallen airline may be bought up, according to news from 168 Hours.
With ticket holding passengers outraged at the airline over now worthless tickets, and lawsuits by various debtors impending, the $30 million in outstanding dept may be a small price to pay for the 14 aircraft and various flight winnings possible for investors. Russia’s civil aviation authority says Armavia has an outstanding debt of $1.4 million to Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, and other similar debts now weigh heavily on the airline’s owner, Mikhail Bagdasarov.
For Bagdasarov’s part, the economic situation clearly had a negative impact on revenues, like so many other small regional carriers. Armenia Now reports more than 400 airline employees now without jobs along with the hundreds of stranded passengers with now invalid tickets. But on the positive side of the story investors from the US, Russia, Italy, or even the Armenian government may buy the airline.
In other news, News.am suggests Armavia may be replaced by another Armenian airline, Krunk Air. Already, the latter airline has offered jobs to unemployed Armavia employees. We will keep you abreast of further developments.
In news from one of Armenia’s most remote regions, the National Statistical Service (NKR) reports that visits to ancient Karabakh were 36.9% higher for 2012 than visits from the previous year. Visitors from 86 countries ventured to the Caucasus highlands in between Armenia and Azerbaijan know in ancient times as the “black garden”.
According to the statistics, nearly 4200 more tourists from as near as Russia and as far away as the United States trekked to Nagorno-Karabakh. The breakdown of visitors was as follows: Russia – 49.5%, USA – 8.9%, France – 6.1%, and Iran – 3.5%.
For those unfamiliar, this part of Armenia has been variously controlled by one empire or another, and under almost continual flux over who actually controlled it. Persia to the Mongols and more recently Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia the region from the steppes of the Caucasus to the high plateaus is desirable, to say the least. Since medieval times this part of Armenia has held a fascinating history descended from the Kingdom of Artsakh, as far forward as the 20th century.
No story of Karabakh can accurately be told without pointing out the weight conflict has subjected onto this place and its peoples. The more fairly recent conflicts between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and to a farther extent the former Soviet Union, saw widespread hostility and the expulsion of Azerbaijani and Kurd inhabitants from the region. On one side of this argument some say the Armenian occupation has made a wasteland of the region, and on the Armenian side of the story the area is thriving more now than in the past.
Regardless of the politics, this part of the Caucasus is truly amazing for its people and its landscapes, not to mention the historic significance.
Tomorrow the National Gallery of Armenia plays host to an exhibition by world famous painter Mkrtich Sedrakyan (1922-2009). The opening marks the celebration of what would have been Sedrakyan’s 90th birthday.
According to the news, the exhibition will be comprised of portraits, many of which will be shown for the first time ever. The artist’s works are famed for exhibiting Armenia’s often troubled past and the struggle his countrymen have made over the years.
For those unfamiliar Mkrtich Sedrakyan received his education in Echmiadzin, later moving to Yerevan, where he continued his schooling. In 1938 he began attending the school of fine arts of Yerevan, but entered the war as a volunteer in 1941, without graduating. His participation in what was known as the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 1945, heavily influenced his work. He is one of Armenia and the region’s most celebrated and awarded artists.
The gallery has created a Facebook presence for the artist here, for those who would like to see more of his fantastic works. For more infomation about tomorrow’s opening, readers may want to read the original press here. The gallery is located at: 1 Arami Street (Entrance from Republic Square), Yerevan 0010, Republic of Armenia. The image of Sedrakyan’s “Vardananq” below, is courtesy the artist’s Facebook.
Great Britain’s Candoco Dance Company will be in Yerevan today with members of the Mihr Theater Group to entertain journalists and offer training. The noted hearing impaired dancers from Armenia are slated to appear at the Yerevan Sports and Culture Palace.
The Candoco Dance Company is one of the world’s most prolific dance troop comprised of both disabled and non-disabled artists. Founded in 1991, the company is scheduled to give further performances in Yerevan coming up in March as well.
The whole point of what Candoco achieves is to challenge what our perceptions of dance and art are. To this end, the company gives instruction not only to help disabled artists worldwide, but to create a dynamic and lasting continuation of dance – to extend the creative process.
Inclusion in these programs is possible for those interested no matter what skill level or experience one may have. The video below offers insight into what Candoco is about.
Research recently conducted by the Heritage Foundation in the US shows the current state of economic freedom around the world. Where CIS countries are concerned, the study made several somewhat surprising findings. One such finding was the 38th position among 177 countries Armenia currently holds placing the small republic at the top of all CIS countries.
In the European region, which consists of 43 countries, Armenia is 17th position in terms of economic freedom by the Heritage Organization’s standards. Within the same zone as Armenia, Georgia at position 21 and Azerbaijan coming in at 88th are the republic’s closest competitors. Russia, interestingly, is nowhere near the top currently holding in 139th spot in the index.
The top 10 countries worldwide are as follows:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United States
To quote directly from the index, Armenia’s position as a rising economic star is expressed so:
“Armenia’s economic freedom score is 69.4, making its economy the 38th freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score has increased by 0.6 point from last year, mainly reflecting the better management of public spending. Armenia is ranked 17th among the 43 countries in the Europe region, and its score puts it above the world and regional averages.”
Relatively low unemployment and inflation, combined with a decent per capita income of $5,384, and 4.4 % growth, paint a positive picture for opportunities there. According to the Heritage Organization’s assessment, the country needs a stronger base of judicial independence and government transparency to become even more liberal where economic freedoms go.
To see all the rankings, methods, and categories of the study, please visit these pages.