YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–If properly developed–tourism in Armenia can in the next five years ensure 20-25 percent of currency receipts–President of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia Aram Vardanian said at the opening of the "Country of Speaking Stones–99" international tourism exhibition.
US Assistant Ambassador Michael Feller pointed out that the largest Armenian community in foreign countries is that of the US (1.5 million people) and they show great interest in Armenia.
He said that there are 15 thousand cultural and historical monumen’s in Armenia of which he visited only one per cent.
He stated that the Armenian monumen’s are not inferior to well-known monumen’s of the world. According to M. Feller–the development of tourism will make it possible to channel some funds to the regions for the construction of hotels thereby creating many new jobs.
Travel agencies from 15 countries are participating in the exhibition which was organized by the ASTA Armenia office and Armenian Union of Travel Agents. The conference "Tasks of tourism development: reality and prospects in the region" will also be organized during the exhibition.
The first exhibition of international tourism arranged in Armenia created a working atmosphere in which most various travel agencies were able to find areas for cooperation–Adamand Ltd. Manager Aram Abajian said in describing the exhibition.
Those producers with limited means of finding sales markets also have vast opportunities to be presented at the exhibition–which allows international tourist organizations to get a better idea of the country’s economy along with studying its historical monumen’s. "The exhibition would have been much more fruitful had some statesmen taken an active participation in it," Abajian remarked.
According to Dutch Airlines KLM Service Department Head Lianna Ginosian–the exhibition is one of the first concrete steps aimed at developing tourism in Armenia. She noted that this time the number of the participating countries was not great–which she ascribed to lack of due information. Ginosian expects much from the next such exhibition.
The Eurasia Tourism Company of Turkey and the Armenian Association of Travel Agents will sign an agreement on the organization of a tourist route Istanbul-Yerevan on October 6–Director of Armenian Office of the American Society of Travel Agents Sisak Abramyan said during his meeting with Minister of Culture Roland Sharoyan. The meeting was also attended by US Assistant Ambassador Michael Feller and Eurasia Tourism Co. President Gunar Ozalp.
According to Abramyan–the Istanbul-Yerevan route will make it possible to direct part of the 10 million tourists visiting Turkey every year to Armenia. From Istanbul to Yerevan tourists will travel by air. According to him–the goal of the ASTA Armenia Office is to develop tourism in the region and therefore the organization will be in cooperation with Iran and Azerbaijan.
According to Ozalp–Turkey has passed a law on tourism for 4,300 Turkish agencies to be guided by. There is also a ministry of tourism in Turkey. There are 150 representatives of ASTA in Turkey–who will soon visit Armenia.
Roland Sharoyan said that now there is a bill under discussion to regulate the system of tourism in Armenia–which "will enable agencies engaged in tourist business in Armenia–to work freely."