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Official News

Friday, 20 November 2015

“My Armenia: Cultural Tourism in Armenia” Program Kicks Off






Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan took part in the official launch of the “My Armenia: cultural tourism in Armenia program” at the Matenadaran Scientific Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan. It was co-developed by the Government of Armenia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Smithsonian Institute in the field of preservation of cultural cooperation and is aimed at the preservation of national cultural heritage through the development of cultural tourism.

Welcoming the guests, the Prime Minister noted that the program is an instance of successful collaboration between the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Smithsonian Institute, and that the Armenian Government is prepared to build on the cooperation.

Hovik Abrahamyan noted that today tourism is a major sector of the global economy and has a great impact on both the structure and the overall situation of the world economy and the economies of different countries and regions.

“Tourism is a dynamically developing economic sector in Armenia. Armenia was visited by about 1 million 204 thousand tourists in 2014., which is 11.3% more than in 2013. The number of domestic tourists was 860 thousand last year, which is 28.4 percent more than in the previous year. At the same time the hotel building industry has become more dynamic. Thanks to investment, there are some 340 hotels operational in our country, 20 of which were built in the last 3 years,” Hovik Abrahamyan said, pointing out that the Government is making consistent efforts to ensure the availability of air transport.

On 23 October, 2013, the Government announced the launch of the Open Skies policy. Negotiations have been held ever since with over 30 foreign carriers to attract new airlines,” the Prime Minister said.

Hovik Abrahamyan stressed the need for making maximum efforts to enhance the share of tourism in the potential for sustainable and balanced economic development and elevate the living standards nationwide.

“I want to highlight the cultural heritage of Armenia, which occupies a unique place in the treasury of the world cultural heritage and is an important stimulus for sustainable development of tourism, which has been declared a priority,” the Head of Government stressed. According to him, in recent years initiatives aimed at the preservation of cultural heritage and diversity have come to the forefront in the light of the emerging global challenges and developments in the field of tourism.

“The Republic of Armenia has embraced a policy of balanced sustainable development, which implies creation of new infrastructure, urban development and expansion of the rich historical and cultural heritage. In this regard, the protection of cultural heritage is crucial to sustainable development, which enables the preservation and popularization of cultural heritage as a resource for sustainable social and economic development. Important is the World Bank-supported Local Economy and Tourism Infrastructure Development program, aimed at the development of necessary infrastructure.

We attach great importance to GOA-USAID cooperation. USAID has implemented this and other similar projects aiming economic growth, democracy and governance, healthcare and social protection, which are very important to our nation’s sustainable development.

The Government of the Republic of Armenia is ready to continue cooperation with the US Agency for International Development with view to implementing such programs and initiatives as stem from the best interest of our country and people,” the Prime Minister concluded, expressing confidence that the program may help promote Armenia’s spiritual and cultural heritage around the world and boost tourism.

The event included welcoming remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills and Senior Advisor of the Smithsonian’s Office of International Relations Halle Butvin.

In his speech, Richard Mills stressed that Armenia is a country with rich cultural heritage and hospitable people, and the purpose of My Armenia project is nothing less than to put
Armenia on the map as a world-class tourist destination.

The goal of the USD 5 million-worth four-year project is not only to develop cultural tourism in Armenia, but also enhance economic development opportunities for rural communities, thus contributing to the development of other economic sectors.

According to him, in order to expand the scope of tourism receipts, tourist centers have to be set up outside Yerevan, which will be attractive for tourists, creating incentives for them to spend more money in the provinces and rural areas.

The U.S. Ambassador stressed the importance of continuity in the program, stressing that he is very happy and excited for such an important and exciting opportunity.

In turn, Halle Butvin said it was not accidental that Matenadaran was chosen to host the program launch, since it is one of the richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books in the world.

Noting that the Smithsonian Institute’s programs aim at global appreciation of cultures, preservation and sustainable development, Halle Butvin said to be impressed by Armenia’s rich culture heritage, adding that he had not seen churches like that in any country. He assured that every effort will be made mediating the My Armenia program to raise global awareness of Armenia as a country with rich cultural heritage.

The goal of the USAUD-supported four-year project is to enhance and increase cultural heritage tourism in the provinces of Armenia through a unique combination of research, scholarship, support for artisan craft, capacity building, and a strong focus on fresh thinking for tourism development.

The program also aims to promote the development of rural communities, raising awareness about Armenia in the international arena, as well as to preserve and build on our country’s natural and cultural heritage.

Further details on the program can be found at myarmenia@si.edu website. Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institute is the world’s largest museum and research complex, which includes 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo and 9 research institutions. The Institute boasts a collection of about 138 million articles and items of historical or artistic value.
 

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