by Erik Abrahamyan
Head of the Tourism Department of the Armenian Economy Ministry, Mekhak Apresyan, has amazed the media by denying the obvious. He claims that tourism services in Armenia are allegedly by 10% cheaper than in Georgia.
At today's press conference Apresyan said that it is necessary to compare equal quantities for impartial assessment. For example, one should compare Yerevan with Tbilisi, Jermuk with Borjomi, but not Yerevan with Kobuleti. Otherwise, wrong conclusions are made about cheap tourism services abroad. Another important thing is that the data should be taken from one source, for example, from booking.com. The head of the Tourism Department blames people for lack of patriotism and for "disseminating absurd rumors" though everyone knows that in summertime hundreds of thousands of people go to
Georgia's Black Sea resorts not only because they underestimate the shores of Lake Sevan.
Deputy Mayor of the resort town of Tsaghkadzor, Garik Hayrapetyan, said that a 6-day stay at a hotel in Tsaghkadzor with 3 meals and participation in the New Year show ranges from 130 thsd AMD to 3 mln AMD per person. However, he understood that the figures are too high and added that very often a few families join their funds and rent a private house for 25 thsd AMD per day. Last winter nearly 1,500 people spent their winter holidays in Tsaghkadzor.
Apresyan also stressed that the number of those wishing to celebrate the New Year in Armenia is growing with every passing year. Moreover, the tourists are not only citizens of Armenia but also foreigners, especially from the CIS countries. According to the statistics, nearly 678 thsd tourists visited Armenia in Jan-Sept 2013, 12.4% more than in Jan-Sept 2012. These were mostly tourists from Russia, Georgia, Europe, Iran and the USA. Domestic tourism in Armenia grew by 38.2% in Jan-Sept 2013. A total of 587 thsd citizens spent their vacation in Armenia.
Having assumed the role of a Book of Complaints and Suggestions, Apresyan expressed confidence that the travelers are pleased with the service quality and prices and feel comfortable and safe. He also pointed out the "favorable investment climate". "It is also noteworthy that as soon as the social package program for state officials was introduced, the number of officials spending their vacation in Armenia rose more than twofold and totaled almost 40
thsd", said Apresyan. He added that the number of contracts on social packages grew from 8 thsd to 19 thsd.
In the meantime, Apresyan did not say a single word about the problems of the tourism sector in Armenia though the tourism market participants, especially, the tour operators point out a number of unresolved problems, particularly, expensive air tickets, prices of hotel accommodation, low quality service, lack of international standards and shortage of skilled personne.