Armenia is a unique tourism destination with a rich and diverse cultural heritage that provides dynamic opportunities for developing tourism markets. The country features an abundant variety of cultural, natural and historical sites, including six UNESCO World Heritage sites, medieval monasteries, churches, and fortresses. Over 2,000 hospitality companies work in Armenia, including hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, transportation companies, tour operators and travel agencies to make your stay a memorable and an enjoyable one! Armenia’s key geographical markets are France, Germany, Russian Federation, and the United States.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index for 2011, Armenia was ranked 90 amongst 139 reviewed countries, indicating that Armenia has a long way to go to be competitive in the international tourism market. In 2009, Armenia’s share of global tourist arrivals was just below 0.1 percent, with 575,300 arrivals and a total of 334.1 million USD in receipts. According to the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia there was a 10,3 percent increase in the number of incoming tourists in 2011. The overall number of tourists in 2011 was 757,935, compared to 687,229 in 2010.

Despite its considerable advantages, the Armenian tourism sector faces a number of critical constraints that need to be effectively addressed. Rural tourism is in its infancy – a broad range of activities (tourism products) need be developed to complement the focus on ‘classic’ tours and to give the industry a significant additional boost. In addition, little English is spoken outside of Yerevan, and the road transport conditions are often inadequate too. The quality of hospitality services is also often below international standards. Finally transport costs for travel to Armenia are relatively high.

In response the USAID/EDMC Project is currently providing professional development opportunities for front-line staff, such as guides, and for middle-level managers to enhance their knowledge of international tourism standards and practices. To further contribute to improved education and workforce skills in the field, EDMC is also working with other key stakeholders, including the American University of Armenia, to train tourism operators, and has sponsored a new best practice-focused hospitality management course for Armenian industry participants.

To further promote rural tourism, EDMC is conducting a targeted assessment of the Syunik region to develop an integrated menu of new tourism products, enhance professional development opportunities, and facilitate design/dissemination of advanced promotional materials, including a detailed rural travel guide. To contribute to an improved online profile for Armenia on the World Wide Web, EDMC is developing a new content development and sustainability plan for the national tourism portal, which will function as a one-stop-shop for international tourists interested in Armenia. This will not only significantly enhance the quality and ready availability of information about traveling and staying in Armenia, but will also enhance the country’s profile as a ready tourism destination and facilitate the outreach efforts of hospitality service providers across the country.

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