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Seda Hergnyan

Coronavirus, War: Tourism in Armenia Takes Big Hit in 2020

Tourism took a big hit in Armenia this year.

First, it was the coronavirus and closed borders. The summer saw a slight uptick in tourist numbers, but this was short-lived due to the September war in Artsakh.

Travel companies, hotels and catering establishments and a host of related retail outlets were impacted.

According to the latest data published by Armenia’s Statistical Committee a total of 327,735 foreign tourists arrived in Armenia in the first nine months of this year (January-September 2020). This is a 77.5% drop when compared to the same period last year.

Of note is that the inflow of tourists was registered mainly in the first quarter of 2020 - 311,264 tourists. No tourists arrived in Armenia in the second quarter, and only 16,471 in the third quarter.

Due to the spread of the epidemic and closed borders, the number of tourists traveling abroad from Armenia sharply decreased. In the first nine months of this year, the number of people leaving Armenia for tourism was 286,227, which is 78.2% less than in the same period last year. Most of them, 275,716 people, left in the first quarter.

According to the methodology of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO), an international tourist is a person who travels from his/her main place of residence for not less than 24 hours and not more than one year, for leisure, treatment, visiting relatives, business, religious or other purposes.  In other words, their main purpose is to travel, not to work.

People have learned to live with KOVID-19 և, if it were not for the war, already in the fall of this year the sphere of tourism in Armenia would start to slowly recover. This is the opinion of

 Mateos Barseghyan, founding director of Armenia’s One Way Tour travel company, says that tourism will slowly pick up when the political situation stabilizes and the country is considered safe. He says that the number of foreign tourists to Armenia would have increased had there been no war.

Of the tourist agencies still open in Armenia, most are arranging domestic New Year’s holiday getaways to Tzaghkadzor, Dilijan, Jermuk and Gyumri. Foreign excursions are limited to Egypt and Dubai.

"Travel companies are trying to make New Year reservations. They are trying to sell tickets to Egypt and Dubai. We reopened a few days ago, trying to work on domestic tourism. Last year we sold many packages to Artsakh and Georgia. We are now trying to organize all this in Armenia, but, of course, on a smaller scale. The demand is small, but there are still people trying to get away," Barseghyan tells Hetq.

The holiday uptick will be temporary for businesses, Barseghyan says, adding the downturn will reappear afterwards.



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