Signing Over 20 MOUs for Sake of Nature Conservation and Sustainable Rural Development

Signing Over 20 MOUs for Sake of Nature Conservation and Sustainable Rural Development

Organizations entering the tourism sector in the rural areas of Lori, Tavush, Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions in Armenia will receive support and advice from experienced tour operators. The cooperation was strengthened on March 1 and 2, 2024,r with the signing of memorandums of understanding between  "Strategic Development Agency" NGO and the project's beneficiaries and partners within the framework of  "Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia" (LILA) project.

"Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia" project is funded by the Swiss government through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It is implemented by WWF Armenia together with “Strategic Development Agency” NGO in partnership with “EcoLur” Informational NGO.

Within the framework of the project, a two-day workshop was organized to facilitate the establishment of partnership relations and the exchange of experience.

The prospects of tourism development, challenges and gaps in the field were discussed during the workshop. The project beneficiaries were presented with cooperation with tour operators, development of sustainable tourism, financial access, instability and security of the international market and other issues. Tour operators shared their experience and presented the perspectives of green businesses and the latest travel trends. The beneficiaries of the project, in turn, presented the business ideas already implemented or designed with the support of the project, talked about the upcoming tasks and expectations.

Welcoming the attendees, Werner Thut, the Deputy Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation for the South Caucasus, said that LILA is changing the face and nature of tourism in Armenia, it supports Armenia to combine nature conservation and economic development in an innovative way.

Speaking about the project effectiveness, Mkrtich Ayvazyan, Chair of "Strategic Development Agency" NGO, noted, "This project is very important from the viewpoint of environmental protection and tourism development."

Karen Manvelyan, Director of  World Wildlife Fund's Armenian office, emphasized that this is the first project where two incompatible approaches, economic development and environmental protection, have been introduced.

A memorandum was also signed last week between  Tourism Committee of Ministry of Economy and "Strategic Development Agency" NGO. Anahit Voskanyan, Tourism Development Advisor of Tourism Committee, who was present at the workshop, expressed her hope that the target regions of the project, such as Lori, Tavush, Vayots Dzor and Syunik, will have progress in the sustainable development of tourism and an incentive to protect ecosystems. If we look at it from the viewpoint of sustainable development, then we should simultaneously consider balanced social, economic and ecological development. LILA project foresees the simultaneous development of those three components from the beginning," he emphasized.

Naire Yeritsyan, Project Lead from WWF Armenia, noted that the two market development and environmental protection components of the project stem from their idea of having tourism in harmony with nature. "This implies an increase in living standards and cash flows that will contribute to the improvement of the environment," he emphasized.

Alla Ghazaryan, the project coordinator from the "Strategic Development Agency" NGO, presented the progress of the project, shared achievements and actions planned until 2025. According to Alla Ghazaryan, as a result of the memorandums signed with the leading inbound tourism companies of Armenia, the latter will make a great contribution to the development of regional tourism. "The businesses established within the framework of the project will be included in the tourist packages of tour operators in order to provide even more tourist flows to the specified rural areas, promoting the development of sustainable inclusive tourism in the regions," she emphasized.

Arkady Sahakyan, Founding Director of "Avarair" Tourist Agency, said in his interview with EcoLur: "Similar projects, where environmental protection is placed in the first place, enable us to get a cleaner, more attractive environment, to present ourselves more clearly in the international market, that Armenia is not only an economy and a developing country, but a country that pays serious attention to its environmental problems and does not distinguish environmental protection and business from each other.

"During this period, we have recorded much success, a number of businesses have been opened with the support of the program, dozens of jobs have been created in different settlements. Currently, we are intensively working on 15 more new businesses, some are in the design phase, some are in the construction phase. By the end of the program, these businesses will be ready, will create new jobs and will contribute to the development of the tourism potential in the regions," he outlined in his interview with EcoLur.

March 08, 2024 at 12:37