In 2013-2014 DP implemented Rural Tourism Development Initiative project funded by EDMC/USAID.
The objective of this project is to improve the tourism sector in Armenia by identifying new sites and destinations in 7 marzes, namely Armavir, Shirak, Aragatsotn, Tavush, Gegharkunik, Kotayk and Ararat marzes.
The Rural Tourism Development Initiative was directed at institutional and community capacity building and provided Tour Operators in Armenia the opportunity to develop new local destinations of cultural and historic heritage and natural resources in rural areas to include into their tour packages.
Although Armenian tourism products are diverse, local tour operators “sell” mostly traditional tour packages limiting them to the small number of attractions. Local tour operators are interested in destination management approach to increase their sales, employment and foreign exchange income for Armenia. This activity supports both rural vendors and tour operators. This exercise is economically beneficial for the rural inhabitants who can offer accommodation services in the form of guest houses and/or B&Bs.
The project consisted of the following components:
• Assessment of the cultural, natural and historic resources in marzes and the development of new itineraries
• Development and printing of promotional Guidebook and map describing the marz and suggesting new itineraries for all Marzes.
• Organization of hospitality trainings in marzes
• Organization of a workshop with participation of Armenian tour operators and local tourism service providers and local authorities to discuss best practices around the promotion of rural tourism as alternative base for economic development.
• Organization of familiarization-trip for local tour operators to present new itineraries.
To further foster the development of rural tourism in Armenia and the region DP shared its expertise and practice with Heifer Armenia supporting them to incept and implement Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism (PIRT) Regional Project between Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Turkey (funded by the European Union).