Armenia develops tourism information centers: Tourists will leave country satisfied and informed
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 21, ARMENPRESS. Number of centers providing information to tourists on different sites of Armenia will reach 7, Ara Khzmalyan – director of the Tourism Development Foundation of Armenia, told ARMENPRESS, adding that such centers already operate in Garni, Goris, Gyumri, Sevan and the Meghri Free Economic Zone.
“We want to provide as complete information as possible to tourists who arrived in Armenia. We are preparing for the opening of new information center at Zvartnots airport which will be equipped with the whole set of tools of providing information and advertising materials. Moreover, sooner or later the flow of tourists to communities should further intensify which means that we should have information centers and well-prepared personnel to hosts tourists there and provide them with proper information”, he said. Ara Khzmalyan highlighted the importance of the information center operating in the Meghri Free Economic Zone especially on the background of deepening relations of Armenia and Iran when an increase of tourism flows from that country is also expected. In addition to the abovementioned centers, one more information center will be established in Lori in cooperation with the UNDP.
The official emphasized that the number of those centers is not so important than the coordinated work between them. “One of the main problems is the absence of communication between these centers. Sometimes it’s necessary to correctly direct tourists to a new attractive tourism site by ensuring connection between different information centers in order to avoid information deficit”, Ara Khzmalyan said. According to him, it’s very important for these information centers to act also as analytical centers.
“You know that our personnel and material resources are not huge, and we seek to make the information centers something like a branch in near future through which we will receive right signals on the necessary steps to be taken in communities. By the statistical notes and analytical work of these centers we will be able to understand what issues concern tourists which in its turn will contribute to developing a smart policy and implementing more targeted steps”, the official said. As for the issue of specialists, Khzmalyan said constant work is being done for training of personnel. Last year a concept was developed which clearly enshrined by what criteria the employees should be selected, what education and skills they should have. “But you understand that by setting such high criteria we probably will not find employees in communities. There is a problem of overcoming language barriers, culture of providing information is lacking, there are also problems with general knowledge, recognizing your own country, community, since it is not so that you should only use the internet and that’s it. A lot of knowledge is required in the process of live communication so that you will be able to provide sufficient responses to requests of a foreigner”, Ara Khzmalyan said.
The agencies engaged in development of tourism in Armenia aim at making the information centers self-sufficient, self-financing structures. “These centers should be able to carry out an activity which will help them to cover all expenses without state assistance. They can use all the incomes provided by the commercial activity and advertising services: organize sales of souvenirs, advertising-information materials, sign respective contracts on providing information about the guesthouses, hotels, private sector and establish certain business ties with the private sector”, the director of the Foundation said, adding that their assistance will be in the form of providing methodological and advertising-information materials.
Author: Ani Nazaryan
English – translator/editor: Aneta Harutyunyan