India a priority emerging market for Armenia
Sudipta Dev – Yerevan
India and Armenia have cultural and historic ties that go a long time back, but in terms of tourism for Indian visitors Armenia is still a little known destination. “India is a priority emerging market for us. We have a lot of things in common. The people of our country feel comfortable in India and vice versa,” said Sergey Avetisyan, deputy minister, Republic of Armenia Ministry of Economy. In Armenia the Ministry of Economy includes tourism as a segment of the economy. There is a department of tourism within the ministry which deals with policies of tourism, laws, regulations. The Armenian Development Foundation is the implementing arm of the policies.
Pointing out that countries like Armenia and Ukraine are obviously interested in attracting tourists from India, Avetisyan stated, “You have a huge population and we are obviously interested in Indian tourists in terms of the numbers. But besides the numbers our historic and other linkages connect us. And that is why we have good potential for developing tourism.”
Avetisyan however acknowledged that Armenia will never be a mass tourism destination. “Our country is primarily a cultural tourism destination. We have our phenomenal history, deep roots into pagan culture, and into Christianity, being the first Christian nation. In terms of tourism our first position is cultural and historic tourism. Following which are nature based experiences like hiking, eco tourism, etc. People normally come here because of culture and heritage. The Armenian diaspora is huge, we have Armenians spread all across the world, who are our natural ambassadors telling about our country to their friends. There are Armenian societies, churches in many countries,” he mentioned.
The ministry is in talks with the travel trade community in Armenia to understand their interests and channel the resources through them. “Next year we will give the money from our budget to the travel trade industry. We will help them. Tourism is about the private sector,” stated Avetisyan.
It is not just India, Avetisyan remarked that other Asian countries like Philippines are interested in Armenia. “The whole tourism sector is about history, stories and fairy tales, and people need that kind of thing. You always welcome someone who is packaging that and giving it to you,” he said.