YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan on Wednesday urged Armenians to spend their holidays vacationing in Nagorno-Karabakh and called on local travel agencies to vigorously promote travel to the mountainous republic over Georgia and Turkey.
Georgia’s Black Sea region of Ajaria has emerged in recent years as the most popular destination of Armenians going on vacation in summer months. They are attracted by its seaside resorts and prices that are often significantly lower than in similar locations in Armenia. A growing number of Armenians also spend their summer holidays on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
Sargsyan publicly complained about that as he met with representatives of about two dozen local travel operators. He said they should now pay much greater attention to resorts in Armenia and especially Karabakh, which is famous for its mountain scenery and ancient Armenian monasteries.
“If you don’t advertise [Karabakh] you will naturally have no clients,” he said. “People don’t even know what opportunities exist in Karabakh, what the tariffs there are. They don’t know that things are marvelous, service is marvelous there. Why aren’t you promoting [Karabakh] day and night?”
“Kobuleti [Georgia] and Antalya: you advertise them so much that even a person who will never go there knows about those places,” added the prime minister.
A representative of Karabakh’s tourism development agency present at the meeting offered the travel agents financial incentives to bring more Armenian tourists to mountainous republic. He said the total cost of a five-day holiday tour of Karabakh will now range from 70,000 drams ($193) to 110,000 drams per person.
Some of the agents sounded incredulous about the offer, saying that they have until now dealt with higher travel and accommodation costs in Karabakh. “Unless we see that [price package] with our own eyes we won’t send any tourists there,” said Ruben Grigorian of the Rumea travel agency.
“So you should be the first tourists,” commented Sargsyan. It was decided that a group of travel agents will leave for Karabakh on Monday to assess the tourism infrastructures and tariffs on the ground.