Armenia's tourist competitiveness index defective

YEREVAN, March 31. /ARKA/. The index of Armenia‘s tourist competitiveness does not properly reflect the real situation, Head of the Tourism Department, RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Mekhak Apresyan stated, commenting on a report on international competitiveness in the tourist sphere for 2008 prepared by the World Economic Forum. According to the report, Armenia ranks 89th among 130 countries this year, whereas it tanked 74th in 2007.

“I do not think that Armenia is implementing a passive marketing policy, all the more so that, in contrast to the other countries of the region, we were the first to start advertising our country on CNN and EuroNews,” Apresyan told reporters. He added that it is a passive marketing policy and improper presentation of the country on the world market that are Armenia‘s major problems.

He stressed that Armenia is also actively participating in about ten international tourist exhibitions, giving priority to the target markets. However, the authors of the report have different ideas of the priorities of participation in international exhibitions.

“We are not going to participate in exhibitions Armenia is not interested in as a potential market for tourists only to get a higher rating in the world competitiveness report. We intend to participate in the projects we are interested in,” Apresyan said.

He admitted the shortcomings in infrastructure, but expressed the opinion that Armenia is at a higher level of business environment management than indicated in the report.

“I think that it is necessary to hold meetings and carry out explanatory work with the authors of the report, especially in the context of the Government’s active policy of developing Armenia‘s tourist industry,” Apresyan said.

The report ranks Armenia 5th in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Among the 130 countries Russia ranks 64th, Georgia 72nd, Ukraine 77th and Azerbaijan 79th .

Among the positive aspects of Armenia‘s tourist industry are hygiene and sanitary conditions, tourists’ security, price competition, good attitude to tourists.

Among the shortcomings are the visa regime with the countries Armenia has the largest number of tourists from, environmental problems, transport infrastructure, hotels, personnel retraining.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. I think we need to add ‘massacres of own citizens’ to the shortcomings list.

  2. This year we looks like will have a less tourists. And the main reason was not the rallies, but state of emergency. Many tour companies here already got cancelations from their partners.

  3. Forgetting that violence came from both sides, a massacre isn’t seven people.

    1. the unnecessary, indiscriminate killing of a large number of human beings or animals, as in barbarous warfare or persecution or for revenge or plunder.
    2. a general slaughter, as of persons or animals: the massacre of millions during the war.
    3. Informal. a crushing defeat, esp. in sports.
    –verb (used with object)
    4. to kill unnecessarily and indiscriminately, esp. a large number of persons.
    5. Informal. to defeat decisively, esp. in sports.

    You could argue repression of its own citizens since 1996, but massacre? Please…
    Besides, human rights concerns generally don’t concern too many tourists or otherwise China, Turkey etc would be in trouble. Infrastructure, price, facilities does. What I find interesting about this is that Georgia and Azerbaijan is ahead of Armenia.
    Sure, Georgia because of Tbilisi I can understand, but Azerbaijan? Or maybe it’s the expat contingent that has driven hotel development etc as well as the oil money in general. Anyway, some of us warned of this years ago.
    That is, Diaspora doesn’t drive long-term sustainable tourism, especially when whether they visit or not is not really competition-based as it is with tourists in general. The demand for internal tourism is also a factor too.
    Anyway, most visitors to countries really want affordable and comfortable services and facilities, especially in the regions, and actually, this country is ridiculously expensive.
    It’s cheaper (and apparently better) for local Armenians to visit Batumi or Kobuleti (in Georgia), for example, than [oligarch-controlled] Sevan. Jermuk and Tsaghdazor is also too pricey for a country such as Armenia too.
    The visa regime should also be withdrawn too. I mean, Georgia doesn’t require visas for European, US etc citizens and the least Armenia could do is waive it for Diaspora. After all, their money ends up in government pockets anyway given that most of the cafes, restaurants, hotels etc are owned by them directly or indirectly.

  4. Oops, wrong thing to past. Meant to paste the sentence from my first comment. Anyway, point is that political clashes don’t usually affect tourism greatly. Otherwise there would be few countries if any that anyone would visit.

  5. Well, it does in our case. Many tour companies got group trips canceled. And not because of demonstrations and rallies, but because of state of emergency.

  6. So you don’t think indiscriminately killing 7 people is not a massacre? What’s your threshold – 10, 15, 100, 1000?

  7. indiscriminately killing? This is not only about the number killed. For example, would you say that the mob massacred the police(man)?
    I think that during calls to armed struggle, when there are weapons raised and used from both sides, this is less often called a massacre, and more often called a clash or a coup attempt.

    SO 7 peopel are nothing for you!!!!! I wish you and your family (if you ahve one) were killed by serz special forces then i would like to talk to you and idscuss whether it was masssacre or not relly …!!!!!
    YOU ARE THE EVIL!!! ONIK!!!!!! DIE!!!!!!!

  9. ONIK! –
    I wish your son is killed just like the man killed by police car in the video and then i would call everyone to sign a petition calling for an independent investigation of that fact!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Massacre? Totally ridiculous. Of the eight people who died, there was one HERO police officer, two innocent bystanders (IF we believe unofficial reports) and five criminal terrorists who were trying to harm the state or were simply brainwashed by LTP.
    yervand and Nazaroghlu you better learn English first, then put labels on events. If Taliban,Chechen, Hizbollah,Hamas are killed it is never called massacre you idiots. These five were terrorists. If I have terrorists and criminals in my family who were shot by police I would be ashamed of my family.
    And Yervand and Hrair Nazarian from Melkonian. If you so defend LTP and consider those killed heroes, why don’t you have the courage to go against the state too? In the middle of Yerevan. What are you afraid off. I thought it is “Payqar minchev verch”?? Is this all you can do? Rant about it in the internet. tghamard chka dser mech ha? Es giteyi, Hrair u Yervand tghayi anunner en…
    Ay anasunner

  11. Onnik is one of the most brilliant journalists Armenia has today alongside John Hughes. And I’m not saying this because he reads this blog. I am saying it because I’ve followed his work. It is fair.It is informative and it is neutral.

  12. my same wishes (as to onik) to hyrenaser” and Ah
    with regards yervand

  13. Baba yervand , I told you: I would be ashamed if there were terrorists in my family. The hooligans of March 1st got their just punishment. They will never attempt it again.
    And now the LTP mafia leaders are in jail threatening a hunger strike. Frankly… who cares?

  14. Firstly, Yervand, I do not condone the killing of anyone — opposition or police — and I also don’t differentiate between the two. Any death is a tragedy. I did, however, point out that just as the Azeris ridiculously call Khodjali a Genocide, let’s get our terminology correct rather than use emotive terms that don’t help matters.
    Anyway, Yervand, I’m worse than Serge and Robert? I’m evil? Is that the level of discourse that can manage? No doubt the people who publish dictionaries are evil too? Regardless, you can disagree, even argue your case, but to accuse little old me of such things indicates a lot about the sort of fanaticism that has emerged.
    Ironically, I used to get the same comments from supporters of Serge and Kocharian on my blog, incidentally, and I had to edit out their attacks on others as well as me before finally putting them on moderation. I think Observer now needs to do the same with you and anyone else who resorts to comments which do more to prevent sorting out the mess Armenia is in.
    That’s speaking on my part. I’m getting used to this tendency towards excessive hate and attacks from people who have forgotten what this all should be about. But I don’t think I ever anticipated anyone sinking so low as to wish that my son was killed. I don’t know what to say, really. It’s just indicative of the sort of mentality that some have.
    Meanwhile, as Yervand doesn’t realize, it’s everyone but the government calling for an independent inquiry (his comment is in response to my backing calls for one from the CE, opposition and Artmika on Unzipped) so his level of political understanding is pretty low as well. Indeed, the opposition ALSO demands an independent inquiry.
    Just goes to show you that not only are some among the opposition consumed with such hate, anger and intolerance, but that they also don’t understand what it is they themselves actually are calling for. Incidentally, I’ve just sms-ed Observer about Yervand’s comment and my suggestion is that he is instantly put on moderation.
    Actually, Observer has given me permission to do so, but I won’t because this is not my blog, and I will also not be accused of censorship. However, such comments violate all ethics and morals and I would expect Observer to now take measures to prevent this from happening again.
    By all means, make use of freedom of speech and opinion, but understand you have no right to react this way. Indeed, much as you have the right to have an opinion, so do I without fear of having to contend with such melodramatic and almost schizophrenic responses. We need reasoned (if heated) discussion, but not comments like this which have unfortunately defined much of the rhetoric during this election.
    But I say again. Don’t you ever mention my son again in such a context. And also understand that democracy and freedom of speech does not mean that you have the right to do and say anything you want. It means that you have that right as long as you don’t infringe upon the rights of others. Unfortunately, that seems to be something that many here in Armenia have failed to understand.

  15. The hooligans of March 1st got their just punishment. They will never attempt it again.

    And Hayrenaser, I don’t agree with comments like that either. I understand that emotions are high, but as dialogue and compromise is the way out of this situation, it isn’t very helpful.

  16. As Observer is currently without Internet connection, I will however close the comments to this post to prevent it continuing and getting out of hand. Needless to say that I hope Observer finds a way to prevent this from happening again in the future. I consider that anyone violating standard blogging etiquette needs to be put on moderation until such a time they can show that they deserve the right to be able to freely comment. When we talk about rights, we are also talking about responsibility.
    When Observer gets back to an Internet connection later this morning, the comments section will likely be back again. However, as I’ve had to do on my blog because I’m well aware that there is no mature political discussion happening on either side, I’d suggest having all comments on moderation. What I do find somewhat amusing is that judging from Yervand’s IP address ( he isn’t even in Armenia. Still, at least I know I can complain to the Scripps Research Institute if such threats and abuse continue.

  17. hi All.
    This is really unpleasant for me – but I have had to put all comments on this blog on Moderation.
    I have been very busy lately, and don’t have internet at home – so things seem to have gone out of hand. Sorry to everyone again, but I think right now this is a correct decision.

  18. Ditord, looks like you have a tool that captures the IP addresses (as evidenced by Onnik revealing a comment poster’s IP address).
    What is the software that gives you that information?
    Also, I think you need to disclose that you capture IP addresses and may make them public if needed. That way we, the audience, will have a better idea of your privacy policies.

  19. Back to the topic, hotels and restaurants must be feeling lonely these days:
    The March 1 events have had some effect on the number of tourists to Armenia: some groups of tourists cancelled their trips to our country, the head of the tourism department of the RA ministry of trade and economic development Mekhak Apresian said at the March 31 press conference to discuss the results of a one-year study on international travels to Armenia.
    According to marketing director of the Armenian Tourism Development Agency (ATDA) Syuzanna Azoyan, 700-800 tourists from Germany cancelled their trips because of the March 1 events. She said these trips could have been made, if higher security had been ensured, which, however, would have increased 2-3fold the cost of tour packages.
    Answering the question about what steps have been taken by Armenia in response to
    Azerbaijan’s statements to avoid visiting Armenia, S. Azoyan stated that the warning about visits to Armenia was immediately removed from the French MFA website after the Armenian embassy has sent a letter to the MFA of France, while the German ministry of foreign affairs had declared it would remove the warning after the lifting of the state of emergency, which was done. S. Azoyan said that “all tour operators
    were informed about it”. In her words, political instability, shocks, outbreaks of a disease in any country have an impact on the number of tourists. However, the effect of the March 1 events is not so considerable that the matter concerns discontinuation of tourism development in Armenia. M. Apresian added that if a tourist decides to visit a country, he/she will do so when the event to have resulted in the trip’s delay is over.
    Thanks for your hard work, Observer!

  20. Dear Observer,
    You don’t have to post this comment here. In fact, I am asking you not to post it, but if you want you can do it. This is more like an open letter to all journalist then a comment and this is the only way I know to send it out.
    It has been a bit more than a month since the events of March 1st. But one month later you can still see people addressing death wishes to other people, as it happened in this blog. It is disturbing and unfortunately it is the fault of the journalists.
    At this moment, as you well know, the nation is as divided as ever. One then should ask what do journalists do to bring the nation together? Is it even their job?
    Normally, one supposes that it shouldn’t be the job of a journalist to bring the nation together in such times. However, where exactly such consolidation should come from in our case? It is clear from the government’s activities that they will take on board only those who submit to their view and it is also clear from the opposition activities that they either are speechless or spread hatred thus dividing the nation even further. The only other source for consolidation that is available out there is independent journalism.
    The burden of being the consolidator lies on the shoulders of journalists and unfortunately the journalists have done everything but. Just look at the pieces they have put out. All pieces are either negative criticism of Levon phenomenon or negative criticism of the government’s activities. It is time to find something positive in both and feed the nation with a healthy food not junk food.
    If journalists continue in the same spirit the nation will only get divided even further. For instance, March 1st showed that a lot of people hate, what they hate is hard to know but they hate. If you come out as a journalist and call those thousands and thousands of people that were gathered in front of French embassy as brainwashed (term used over and over again) how do you think these people will react? You will get a chaotic, incomprehensible, angry, loaded response and in particular, in Onnik’s case you will even get a death wish. The fact is that a huge portion of the population is out of the train and calling them the names that certain portion of the independent media has been calling them will only mobilize them against. The whole drama and the danger of the situation is that there isn’t a particular thing that the masses are against, so playing with them the way many journalist have been playing will only lead to an explosion of even a bigger magnitude.
    It is really strange that there hasn’t been a single analysis of the events of March 1st that touched all aspects of the drama. There are many articles that are against this party or that party but exactly how they contribute to bringing the nation together is a complete mystery. Just read the comments posted after each article, like for instance lets take ArmeniaNow. After each analysis you have many comments and about 50% of the comments agree with the article because they already had the same idea and political position and about 50% of the comments are against because they already disagreed with the piece before even reading the piece. No article in ArmeniaNow has been of consolidating nature offering something positive to both sides, something that might build a common ground.
    What one needs are articles that touch all aspects of the case not just one part of it. Those who write against Levon, don’t they actually see something positive in his actions? True he has been a bad leader guided by unhealthy motives; however, it has been repeatedly stated by Levon supporters that they don’t want Levon and they don’t want this or that either. It is your job to connect with these people. Maybe his actions were of destructive nature, but he did mobilize a lot of people who disagreed with him, so maybe you can give this part of the population what Levon couldn’t do because of his bad motives. Those who write against authorities don’t they see something positive in their actions. After all economy has been blooming in some ways.
    In short, it is the time to bring out all aspects of March 1st with the intention of bringing people together, an article that doesn’t call the protesters brainwashed or loaded, an article that doesn’t call the government evil, an article that justly criticizes both parties and proposes common ground for all, an article that analyzes the future, brings out the mistakes of the past few months and tries to analyze what we as a nation learned from those mistakes, finally, an article that gives hope to both fragments and unites them into one as we are all Armenians.
    P.S. I have prepared this letter in just 15-20 minutes so please disregard the mistakes and vagueness. I tried to make the point as clearly as possible, and I hope I have succeeded. I understand that the job of a journalist is a difficult one, but these are times that we need journalist to be more careful about what they say and how they express it. Keep in mind that our people aren’t quite used to reacting the media as we had only less than 20 years of this. So please be more responsible and weight your words. It does really feel that the media has been pouring oil on fire.

  21. Observer,
    you in my post doesn’t refer to you but rather to all journalists. I haven’t noticed that I used you so often. Sorry.

  22. Grigor Sargsyan, thank you for the letter. Fair points indeed. In fact I’ve been trying to write a comprehensive analyses – I started it back in March 6, when a couple of British media companies asked me for an objective briefing of developments in Armenia. however, I found I’m not informed enough and unbiased enough to write something I could be satisfied with. However – I’ll give it a try, and complete the draft I already have. Perhaps it will be ready over the weekend and I can post it this Monday.

  23. Nazarian – all blogging engines, including WordPress and Google Blogger, which you are using, capture IP addresses. Using a simple Whois query on any Linux machine, or using any of the freely available Whois services – one can find out where exactly the comment comes from.
    Onnik’s life was threatened on this blog – and I think it was only fair, that he got the chance to find out, where exactly that threat came from. As to his decision to publicise the IP address and location of Yervand -it is his decision, and not mine. Neither it is my policy. In fact, my policy is to give unrestricted freedom to comment, but when it gets nasty, I find it suitable to edit out bad words, direct calls for violence and offenses, which do not contribute to the content of the debate in any way.
    I am also sorry, that because of circumstances, I wasn’t able to handle this ugly situation myself.
    oh well! why do people think, that they can be rude online, and get away with it? 🙁

  24. OK – I’m removing moderation, but I have to strongly urge you guys to be more reserved and try to discuss matters in a more civilized manner.

  25. I don’t think captures IP addresses – at least I can’t find how and and where and when. I don’t think I would ever make someone’s IP address public even though it would be nice to know (out of curiosity).

  26. Onnik,
    For your interest and safety:
    The threats against you were made by a certain
    Yervand Karapetyan MD at the Scripps
    If you do a google search on him you see that he has posted all over pro-Levon websites and blogs.

  27. Nazarian – I’ll be happy to show you – but this is offtop. I’ll check out that on my old blog: and get back to you with details.

  28. Hello everybody
    first of all nice to meet you all
    second there was nothing secret about my location and if requested by anyone on this blog i would have provided you with my contact info
    3. MOST importantly i never threatened anybody in this blog;
    THIS WAS JUST A WISH AND NOT A THREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    [edited out by Administrator]………………….
    I am one of the march 1st victims father, brother!
    Hope this will help you understand me and why I tried to make onik feel that way so he understands that he is speculating on peoples blood!
    mardkanc arjan vra demokratia chen xaxum!
    enkaci (xpvaci, spanvaci) glxin avetaran (karoz) chen kardum !!!!!!
    Khorin harganknerov Yervand

  29. Yervand Karapetyan [edited by Administrator]
    Don’t try to justify your threats by now saying that you are a relative of March 1st “victims”. Already in your statement “father,brother” it shows that you are lying.
    You are either father or brother. Amot qez! Demokratiayic iravunk chunes xoses,[edited by Administrator].

  30. So once again for people with limited abilty of understanding:
    I am a father of killed victims on march first.
    I am a brother of murdered people on march first.
    And I should probably add that I am a son of a victim too!!!!!
    Hope this will help you understand that any human armenian feelsjust like me!!!!!!!!
    Thank you

  31. Hayrenaser, Yervand – your discussion leads to nowhere! I’m closing the comments section for this post.

Comments are closed.