Ecotourism: NCFA proposes tourism expansion

Ecotourism: NCFA proposes tourism expansion


The tramway is expected to spur tourism to Tatev monastery attracting about 20,000 visitors a year.

The National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia (NCFA) took up the development of ecotourism, rural and culinary tourism, which is considered to be an important unused potential for tourism in general.

“Armenia has a great ecotourism potential; and currently we develop programs in order to combine the historical-cultural tourism [a priority branch of tourism in Armenia] with rural and culinary tourism,” says Zara Amatuni, NCFA Head of the PR Department.

In 2009, about 600,000 tourists visited Armenia, as of the first quarter of 2010, their number was 230,000. Most of them are interested in historical-cultural monuments; and if rural communities were ready to receive guests, then, according to Amatuni, many tourists would prefer just the ecotourism, and rural tourism particular, which is part of it.

However, peasants need trainings, and a culture of working with tourists must still be developed. For that purpose NCFA has developed a project which will include seven villages near Tatev Monastery in the nearest future.

“Development programs have already been developed in seven villages near Tatev Monastery, planning to assign micro-loans to peasants for renovating their houses and providing B&B [bed and breakfast] comforts,” Amatuni told ArmeniaNow.

Culinary tourism, which is not popular in Armenia yet, will be developed along with rural tourism, too.
“The culinary brand of Armenia must be developed; for example, Zangezuri Cuisine, and a tourist, who visited the village, may not only taste this or that dish, but he/she may also participate in the cooking process. This is a very popular means of tourism in the whole world, which is in great demand,” Amatuni says.

The three-year Tatev Revival Project is the most important issue NCFA must fulfill. The project includes restoration and conservation of the monastery, development of infrastructures, improvement of Vorotan Gorge, and the development of rural and culinary tourism with the involvement of adjacent communities.

The greatest work of the project, which has about $50 million budget ($20 million of the sum was donated by 100 Armenian and foreign benefactors, and $10 million – by the government), is the construction of the longest tramway in the world, 5.7 kilometers, which is almost finished, and will open October 16.

The Tatev tramway, of the cost of $13 million, runs from the village of Halidzor, close to the highway from Yerevan, to Tatev village, where the Tatev monastery complex (IX century) is located.

Thanks to the tramway, the monastery should get about 20,000 visitors a year, and will be available during winter months, too, promoting the enlargement of tourism season in Armenia.

An online fundraising is held for Tatev Revival Project. All those who wish to donate for the project, may visit and make their donations, paying $10 until September 30. The site offers a lottery from which two wining couples may get an opportunity to have a seven-day tour in Armenia.