Tourism In Armenia Before The Epidemic
“Europe’s best-kept secret”, “One of the most affordable destinations in the world”, “World’s most beautiful parliament buildings” – Tourism in Armenia has emerged during the last few years and the world-famous magazines are “talking” about it.
Well, the reasons are obvious: Armenia is safe, hospitable, affordable, accommodating, “tasty”, and culturally rich. As a result, the number of tourists in Armenia has increased by 1,9 million people during the period of 2006-2019 (by the Statistical Committee of RA), which makes 14,7% in comparison with 2018. In 2019 Armenia made 10-point progress (79th) among 140 countries in Travel & Tourism Competitiveness released by the World Economic Forum Compared to 2018.
Where Do Tourists Come From and Why?
According to the Ministry of Economy of RA, about 31% of tourists arriving in Armenia are from the Diaspora, 69% are foreigners (mostly from Russia, Iran, USA, Georgia, Philippines, China, Japan, Western Europe). Almost half of the tourists in Armenia are interested in cultural tourism, 19% come to see the nature of Armenia, 16% come for entertainment, 13% of tourists prefer business, adventure and resort tourism, and 3% come to Armenia for long-distance touring. Lately, more activities have become available for tourists like ecotourism, hiking, and gastro-tourism.
The people of Armenia are one of the main tourist assets of the country. Being famous for their friendly attitude and proud of their culture, Armenians themselves invite visitors to their homes, parks, restaurants, providing them with personal experience of the Armenian lifestyle. In addition to these advantages, Armenia’s membership to the growing global tourism market and visa-free policy make Armenia an accessible destination for tourists.
Tourism Expectations of 2020
While 2019 was a booming year for tourism in Armenia, the expectations for the next year were really high and promising. At the beginning of 2020, Armenia appeared in the lists of new destinations. European airlines – Ryanair, Wizzair, and Air Baltic announced the long-waited low-budget flights to Armenia from Rome, Milan, Berlin, Thessaloniki, Athens, Vienna, Vilnius, and more destinations to come starting from 18.99€ – groundbreaking news for many tourists and locals.
Unfortunately, the expectations for 2020 ended up being too high. Armenia lost around 175.000 tourists as the COVID-19 struck the world, including Armenia.
A state of emergency was announced in the country starting from March 16. Despite the obstacles caused by the epidemic, the Tourism Committee had quite optimistic predictions for 2020.
It was expected that the number of people arriving in Armenia in the first quarter of this year would increase by 14% or 34,000 visitors compared to the same period last year. But now, because of the situation, tourism experts are having difficulties to make predictions even about the terms of recovery of the tourism sphere. According to experts, Inbound tourism will suffer more than $ 350 million in losses due to coronavirus restrictions.
What Should Tourists Expect?
Despite the pandemic and closed borders, a number of major international airlines have already started selling tickets. Ryanair sells tickets for flights from Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Germany to Armenia, and vice versa for July. Although it should be noted, that earlier Wizzair planned to fly from Austria, Lithuania, and Cyprus to Armenia and back in June. But the tickets were canceled soon after by the airlines as they have taken into account the end of the state of emergency. Currently, it is not clear whether the existing restrictions will be extended or not.
Sadly, tourism has been the most damaged sector from coronavirus in Armenia, but there is still time for recovery within. Based on the pandemic, almost all countries whose borders are closed, including Armenia, are taking steps to develop domestic tourism. Many touristic cities are ready to receive their guests properly.
Armenian tour agencies are organizing hiking, camping, and cultural trips across the country taking into consideration safety measures.
So, when the borders of Armenia will be opened for tourists? The government does not have a clear answer yet, though the president of the Armenian Tourism Federation believes that if the contagion recedes, the Tourism sector will start to recover step by step from the end of August.
Time to plan your next visit to Armenia. More about how you can spend one week in Armenia.