Ecotourism Develops in Artsakh (EXCLUSIVE)
"Armedia" IAA presents an exclusive interview with Project Coordinator of Tourism Department of the Ministry of Economic of the Artsakh Republic Artak Grigoryan about the recent tendencies on tourism development in Artsakh.
- Mr. Grigoryan, can you briefly present the recent tendencies of tourism development in Artsakh?
- In general the tendencies of the tourism development in Artsakh allow us to speak about the sphere as a dynamic and stable developing branch of the economy. During the recent ten years the number on foreign tourists in Artsakh was quadrupled, in 2016 reaching almost to 15.000. This year also high rates of the tourism development are being recorded. Thus, in the first semester of 2017, 46 percent increase of foreign tourists has been recorded as compared to 2016; in 2016, 26 percent, as compared to 2015.
- What has been done in the recent years to contribute to the development of tourism in Artsakh?
- The question raised has various layers, as the tourism sphere itself is multi-layer and is extensive in its nature, thus, the steps aimed at its development should also be like that. In few words, I can state that a lot has been done to contribute to the development of infrastructure as well as tourism development and progress. As a result, today we have almost 50 hotels, 10 reformed, available and exclusive in their nature tourism destinations. In addition we work on the diversification of tourism activities, suggesting tourists not only sightseeing tours, but also leisure activities.
Starting from this year, tourist buses with cheap prices take tourists and Artsakh residents to various tourist destinations by different routes.
- What does Artsakh suggest to tourists today?
- Several branches of tourism develop actively in Artsakh, including traditional sightseeing tours as well extreme tourism and ecotourism that have a huge potential of development. Artsakh’s rich historical, cultural and natural heritage, in essence, is of those cornerstones, on which tourism stands today in Artsakh. The role of the state here is to ensure the presence of reformed, well preserved and available historical, cultural tourist destinations, which are of great interest to tourists. In addition, Artsakh’s landscape itself presents good opportunities for the tourists preferring active rest.
Specially designed "13 Road Trails" through mountain trails "guide" tourists from Artsakh’s northern to southern regions giving them the opportunity to visit the most beautiful and famous monuments. Besides, mountain cycling and hiking also has a huge potential of development in Artsakh, in the direction of which some work is being done.
- What is the favorite sightseeing in Artsakh?
- It is hard to identify any tourist destinations. Entire Artsakh atrracts tourists. However, in terms of the number of visits, we can identify Shushi, Tigranakert, Hunot Canyon, Togh Melik museum-preservation areas, the house-museum of Nikol Duman (an Armenian fedayee from Artsakh), while among spiritual destinations Gandzasar, Dadivank and Amaras monasteries.
- Do you have any plans, projects that aim at further developing tourism in Artsakh?
- For the tourism sphere, as a branch of economy, under permanent attention of the government, there are annual, short-term and long-term projects that boost the development of internal tourism and form basis to more efficiently use the potential of tourism in the future. In addition to the various projects done by the government, today we also have arrangements with international donors to implement development projects in the tourism sphere.
- I think you often communicate with tourists because of the nature of your work. Will you, please, refer to some of their comments?
- Although the unresolved conflict has some negative impact on Artsakh as a tourist destination, the tourist from different countries note they felt safe and secure in Artsakh and they are usually surprised at the level of the developments of tourism infrastructures and in general, at the level of development of the country. However, the most interesting experience that they have is the communication with the local people, acquaintance with the hospitable nature of the Artsakh people.
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