ArmInfo. On December 12, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan held a meeting in the resort town of Jermuk to discuss the development of tourism, one of the priority directions of Armenia's economic development.
The press office of the Armenian President has told ArmInfo that the meeting was held during Serzh Sargsyan's working visit to Vayots Dzor. Present at the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielyan, Minister of Economic Development and Investments Suren Karayan, Minister of Territorial Administration and Development David Lokyan, Minister of Culture Armen Amiryan, Governor of Vayots Dzor Province Harutyun Sargsyan, Head of Jermuk community Vardan Hovhannisyan, and other officials.
The President said that despite the positive results registered in the tourism sector, there is still a big unused potential here. He noted that two months ago, along with formation of the new government, a State Committee on Tourism was set up at the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments. The Committee will elaborate the policy on tourism promotion. Sargsyan said that the government has set itself an ambitious task - to triple the number of tourists in Armenia within the next 5 years. It is impossible to do this with the efforts of the tourism sector representatives only, the President noted, adding that it is an interconnected chain of economic development and that the final result depends on the reliable and active work of all the links of that chain. "Everyone should realize that the sector can develop only due to our joint efforts. Certainly, the potential is big and it is shortsighted to expect tangible results in the near future, but the development pace should be felt daily. It is no wonder that we are holding this meeting in Vayots Dzor, where there are historical premises for development of tourism," Sargsyan said.
Sargsyan added that the southern tourism route runs through Vayots Dzor province and it leads to such spiritual and cultural centers and destinations as Noravank Monastery Complex, Areni caves, health centers of Jermuk, Tatev Monastery Complex, Zorats Karer, and certainly to the world of glorious Artsakh. He is convinced that the southern tourism route has a big potential to elaborate even large projects, particularly, the Iran-Armenia-Georgia tour package. "I suppose an important role in development of this sector belongs to the local administrations, especially to the heads of the communities, which are a link in this chain. We should develop Jermuk and the other tourism centers to get an integral whole in the future," he stressed.
The President recalled Pope Francis' visit to Armenia under the slogan "Pilgrimage to the First Christian Country", as well as the discovery of the most ancient shoe in Areni-1 cave, which was widely covered by the international media outlets.
In the meantime, Sargsyan is convinced that Armenia does not pay proper attention to the tourism inside the republic.
At the end of the meeting, the President instructed the prime minister to set up a tourism council under the deputy prime minister. The council will coordinate the activities of the state structures related to the tourism sector and territorial development, and will contribute to enhancement of tourism competitiveness. The council will be accountable to the President and the Government.
The deputy prime minister was instructed to discuss the upcoming large projects on development of infrastructures of rural communities. The President also suggested working out mechanisms to expand the format of private-public cooperation in these projects and to submit them for consideration of the government.
The minister of economic development and investments was instructed to complete the elaboration of the new Armenian draft law "On Tourism" and to submit it for consideration of the government in Q1 2017, as well as to work out specific measures aimed at forming an administrative registry of the tourism sector.