Bypassed: Armenia lags behind neighbors in attracting tourists

Bypassed: Armenia lags behind neighbors in attracting tourists


The 9th century Armenian monastery of Tatev is located on top of an impregnable cliff and until recently (before the air tram) a winding uphill road was its only approach.

In spite of the government’s efforts to develop tourism in Armenia, the county remains inferior to its neighbors in the industry.

According to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness 2011 Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on March 7, Armenia is less competitive in the sphere than neighboring Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Among 139 countries examined, Turkey is 50th, Georgia 73rd and Azerbaijan 83rd. Armenia, 90th is ahead of only Iran (among its neighbors), which 114th.

Nevertheless, as compared to 2009, according to the WEF biennial report, Armenia registered a one step progress. The Government of Armenia and the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia implement a number of programs to develop tourism in Armenia; the longest Tatev ropeway in the world opened last autumn, being the most noteworthy among them.

Last week Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan attended the presentation of, Armenia’s first-ever online hotel booking system, which is directed at Armenia’s being more competitive in the world tourism market.

In 2009, the Prime Minister-headed Operative Staff, which seeks to support economic development projects in Armenia, provided the company with 25 million drams (about $70,000) in loan resources. The booking system covers 106 hotels.

“The Government’s tourism development-oriented efforts are taking effect as evidenced by economic indices: despite the unprecedented fall of 2009, we saw a 4% rise in tourism amid globally registered downward trends. The success was built on in 2010 with about 17% increase. We are hopeful that this tendency will be upheld in 2011,” Sargsyan said.

Nonetheless, according to the report, Armenia, which is in 40th place among 42 European countries, must yet take many steps to become a more attractive destination.

WEF assesses the tourism potential of the world according to 14 different indicators and conditions, including policy rules and regulations, environmental sustainability, safety and security, health and hygiene, prioritization of travel and tourism, air and ground transport, tourism and ICT infrastructures, human, natural and cultural resources.