The conference was a milestone for offering a platform for a wide variety of organizations across the board, ranging in scope and function, to be transparent about their work in Armenia’s respective regions. Represented were massive players, like the World Bank, who has been investing heavily in small grant opportunities for villages, as well as smaller, grass-roots efforts, like ARK Armenia, an NGO marking hiking trails, building eco-camps, and hosting volunteers in Kapan.
Also represented were some promising businesses operating by environmentally-friendly principles, like Nairian, a company producing the first ever Armenian all-natural cosmetics made from plants and herbs harvested in the country’s highlands, and Apaga Resort, a resort based in Yenokavan that offers ziplining and horseback-riding and hosts an impressive 30,000 tourists per year.
The event was also valuable for encouraging individuals and business to voice their concerns about the current status of Armenia’s tourism industry. Argishti Mikayelyan, owner of Vayk Hotel in Vayots Dzor, commented on the negative effects of outdated models of tourism, “Agrotourism and tourism in Armenia will develop further only after we shift our focus from church tourism and start delving deeper into our villages, rural zones, and natural habitats. From our investigations, tourists come to Armenia to see nature, village food, traditions, and agriculture. But instead, we force feed them only ancient cultural artifacts and agriculture.”