Tourism 'key exportable investment trend in Armenia' – Swiss-Armenian businessman

11:06 • 05.04.18



In an interview with Tert.am, Ara Khurshudyan, the president of the Swiss-Armenian travel agency Aratours, elaborated on the prospects of developing tourism in Armenia, addressing, among other things, Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan’s recent visit to the country, and the outcomes of his participation in the Davos Economic Forum.


Mr Khurshudyan, since his very first day in office, Karen Karapetyan highlighted plans for creating a maximum business-friendly atmosphere in Armenia as a key trend of his government’s activity. What is your evaluation of the prime minister’s steps - as a person who has done business in Switzerland for quite a long period of time? 


The prime minister’s call was really inspiring as it is. I am really happy that after many years’ silence, the government has finally developed the right understanding of tourism’s role as a key exportable investment in Armenia. Armenia has several associations and foundations in the tourism sector. So I think their consolidation under a single brand would be a primary step. In Switzerland, for example, the entire information is available at myswitzerland.com.


Before leaving for Davos to attend the international summit, Karen Karapetyan met with members of the Switzerland-Armenia Chamber of Commerce, and Swiss businessman, to calls on them to “come and do business in Armenia and make investments in the country”. Our country is really worth making investments in, and doing business. How was that call perceived among the Swiss and Swiss-Armenian businessmen?

 

That call was justified, as the prime minister was really able to attract the attendees. A Swiss businessman who was next to meet even took my contact data to arrange his accommodation in Armenia in case of visiting the country. You know also about Jacob Schuler, a Swiss businessman and winemaker, who represents one of the best-known taverns in Switzerland. He is doing business in the Vayots Dzor region, and planning to make investments there to expand [his activities]. It is a very important and positive example for the Swiss people who may want to come to Armenia [to do business].


Armenia and Switzerland saw their overturn increase by around 3.5 times last year. What do you think could account for such an active dynamics?


My response may be limited only to the tourism sector. The progress here is, unfortunately, rather slow. Over the past ten years, we have seen a very modest increase in the number of Swiss people interested to discover Armenia through our [agency]. As for the figure you mentioned, it is really impressive; I am also aware that it was mentioned in the course of the prime minister's visit to Switzerland, as well as in the frameworks of the Swiss National Council’s president’s visit to Yerevan. I think that the more active dialogue can stimulate the bilateral ties, contributing to their development and expansion.


You are also specializing in tourism development between Switzerland and Armenia. What steps to you see for the development of the bilateral ties and dialogues? The possibility of launching direct flights is being discussed very often, with both the prime minister of Armenia and Swiss [officials] - particularly President of the Swiss National Council Dominique de Buman-  repeatedly highlighting its importance. To what extent do you consider it realistic.


Direct flights can certainly have their role, and the two countries' prime ministers have repeatedly discussed the topic. So I am hopeful the problem will receive an adequate solution.  We have many friends who love Armenia and who are really willing to visit Armenia in case of a convenient flight [route] to spend at least their week-end in the country. Of coutrse, a direct flight is not the only condition. What matters here is also the problem of Swiss people's unfamiliarity with Armenia. Our country, as a tourist destination, is of interested to only a very limited group of [travellers]. Typically, these are people aged above 60, who are eager to discover a new culture, architecture and history. Anyway, they little by little recognize and love Armenia. Experience shows that those visiting Armenia often face the “risk” of returning to our beautiful country over and over again to discover it in a new way.

 

Armenian News - Tert.am





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