On July 6th the Fuller Center for Housing Armenia and Heifer Project International Armenian Branch organized “Development Potentials for Rural Tourism in Armenia” roundtable in the framework of the USAID-funded Advanced Rural Development Initiative (ARDI).
ARDI program stakeholders, producers, beneficiaries, partner and donor organizations, business representatives from different rural communities, representatives of State Committee of Tourism and USAID representatives joined the event.
The opening remarks from head of the State Tourism Committee of Armenia Zara Zeitountsian were followed by presentations from Tourism experts Tatev Muradyan on “Armenian intangible cultural heritage as a great potential for developing hospitality business” and Armine Melik-Israyelyan, GIZ expert on “Tourism Destination Management and Product Development”.
Active discussions were followed and the participants were inspired on opportunities how Armenian rich culture can enable them to take their hospitality business to next level.
Sandra Gordon, who is World Traveler and Food Expert participating during event, shared “The potential of Armenian rural tourism is endless. The natural beauty, ancient stone structures, some of the world’s most hospitable people, an ancient culinary tradition of delicious home cooked natural foods, wines & spirits, all contribute to a winning sustainable combination”.
Anahit Ghazanchyan, Heifer Armenia Country Director said “We all cherish our childhood memories of the villages of our grandma and grandpa, and would love to share our love with others. But the reality is that there are lots of problems in Armenian villages that may hinder tourism development. Among them I will name few, but very important: lack of waste management; poor roads; just untidy appearance of some houses and orchards; lack of clean toilets, poor infrastructure and most importantly, lack of trained local people who can be faces and voices of their villages. Today’s round table was very important in terms of bringing together all major actors in rural tourism from donor community, hospitality businesses and the government. I do hope together we can bring Armenian village to the level our nation deserves”.
Susanna Khachatryan, the ARDI program COP concluded the event “The ARDI Program still has a lot to do in this field, and we are ready for cooperation. As it has been repeatedly pointed out today, diversified services are needed to make the rural destination more attractive for tourists to stay overnight in the village.”