SUPPORTING THE IDEAS OF ARMENIA

SUPPORTING THE IDEAS OF ARMENIA

Armenian entrepreneurs and business entities generate thousands of great ideas and sometimes only a small jump with support is needed for them to succeed and promote Armenia both locally and internationally. Regional Post talked to the grantees of the EU4Business “Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia” project co-founded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by German Development Cooperation GIZ, who had received that small support jump for their ideas. 

Text : Margarit Mirzoyan

 

  

The song of Ice

Dilijan might become a hub of extreme and adventure tourism in Armenia as the first via ferrata will be established there very soon. A horizontal ropeway will be placed on the rocks with a special fastening mechanism. There was no such type of adventure in the region before. Hayk Kharatyan, one of the initiators of the project has worked in the adventure and extreme tourism sectors for a long time. He has also worked on the preservation of Dilijan National Park, which eventually became the location for their new initiative. The project is called “Icewall”. The name is directly related to the area as the park is located at the Sartsapat (which means “covered with ice”) mountain of the Ijevan mountain range. It’s about 15 kilometers from Dilijan – near Haghartsin village, up through the mountains via off-road cars. They discovered Sartsapat while working in the forests and the moment it caught their eye they knew that was it.

“Besides via ferrata, the project will include other options for active rest including rock climbing, paragliding, off-road drives with Jeeps, mountain biking tours, horse races etc.”, says Hayk, “The area used for the project will also have a camping zone for those who wish to stay in small cottage-like structures that are not very common in Armenia”.

Once the adventure is ready, their further goal is to expand and build perhaps the longest via ferrata getting registered in the Guinness Book. Besides the business perspectives, the project has wider purposes, including the development of adventure tourism in Armenia. The team backing the project has all the necessary experience for the implementation of such an initiative. They are going to also engage their friends who were previously involved in the construction of several ziplines in Armenia and the organisation of other extreme and adventure tourism activities. The project has social aspects to it including training for youth representatives from local villages who will be trained to become instructors and work at the site. Another issue the project will address is the environmental element; by bringing a huge number of tourists into the area they will prevent illegal logging. According to Hayk Kharatyan, this project is just one piece of the huge puzzle.

 

Tourism in Shirak

After the earthquake of 1988, the Berlin Centre for Mother and Child was established in Gyumri with the support of the German Red Cross, and after the war ended, it gradually turned into the Berlin Art hotel we know today. From the first days of its establishment, the hotel began to organise day tours which resulted in the establishment of the “Shirak Tours” tourism organisation in 2000. Its goal was to explore Shirak's tourism resources and create a new approach to the Armenian tourism market and human centered tourism. Berlin Art Hotel also has a tourism base in the Krashen village of Shirak region, which is now used for cross-country ski tours, dining, and relaxing.

 

The new project of the Berlin Art Hotel aims to expand the “capacities” of Krashen and turn it into a suitable place for various types of tourism: adventure, healthcare, sports, and agritourism. The area is known for its astonishing nature which has its attraction in all seasons of the year. There are abundant water resources like waterfalls and mineral springs around the area, beautiful pines which are great for those with respiratory issues, not to mention the honey produced from the flowers of Krashen. There are also hiking trails, beautiful snow covers in winter, connections with “gorge villages” (Salut, Bashgyugh, Kakavasar, Dzorashen), and the road leading to Trchkan waterfall.

 

The initial plan is to turn Krashen into a recreational area for the whole year. The tourism base, which is a single-story house with a surrounding park, has become an eco-lodge where visiting tourists can rest and relax, taste organic food, take hiking or skiing tours and train in the open-air gym/sports area. The implementation and development of the tourism project had a social function and provide jobs for the villagers. In a long-term perspective the goal of this pilot project is to turn Krashen into an eco-village. This will greatly contribute to the development of domestic tourism which is more important than ever considering the absence of foreign tourists. Cooperation is planned with Krashen livestock and vegetable farms to engage them in rural tourism, food supply, and the establishment of eco-lodges in future. Cooperation has already been established with “Krashen Community Development Initiative Group” NGO and Krashen Eco Farm group.

 

They will organise training courses and masterclasses for the villagers in order to provide them with employment opportunities. Thanks to the project, 3-5 people from the village of Krashen will have jobs during all seasons. This number will increase in the upcoming years.

 

The only pension in Armenia turning green

Dghyak was the only registered pension in Armenia. After undergoing a huge transition it reopened as Green Wood hotel. This is a family-led business designed for family rest. The complex also has a conference hall – hosting various trainings, group visits of international students, exchange programmes, conferences etc. Most of the team members are local women who were previously unemployed, but the management of the pension has re-profiled them in different areas and they currently work at the Green Wood. During the global pandemic, the hotel received government support and didn't fire a single employee; on the contrary, they even hired a new one. They also received support from EU4business ITTD project and decided to direct their focus on the new image of the pension. They decided to undergo a rebranding and started with the name of the pension. “Dghyak” was hard to pronounce for the foreign guests, also the building itself didn’t look like a “dghyak” (a castle), so, they chose “Greenwood” as the new name of the hotel and already have a new logo and brand identity with a brand-new slogan – “Comfort is our nature”.

Greenwood hotel also support the locals by purchasing goods from local farmers. The lighting of the territory will be implemented via alternative energy sources, which is the environmental aspect of their operation. They will have a website and a promotion via social media. The website will illustrate not only information about the pension but also provide information about the beautiful sites of Dilijan community and Tavush region.

 

The pearl of Lori

Odzun, located in the greenery of Lori, is one of the major and historic villages in the region. Here, in Odzun, Sergo Davtyan and his wife Azniv Asryan have established their guesthouse. In 2019, the enterprise hosted 920 overnight foreign visitors and provided lunch to 900 day visitors. It all began over ten years ago, when the family was asked to host French tourists for a couple of nights as their house had all the necessary facilities to accommodate foreign guests. It turned out that the visitors were from Marseille and arrived in Armenia with a wish to find new tourist destinations.

 

As Azniv is a French language specialist and also knows a little bit of English, she and her husband easily found common ground with the visitors and eventually their new French friends asked them if they would want to regualry host tourists and offer them a variety of tourist services. Azniv and Sergo agreed and a couple of years later, in 2013, they officially registered the B&B and it became the job of their lives.

At first they would host the guests in two rooms of their own house, but with time they enlarged the guesthouse, initially allocating for that purpose four rooms of the house and then expanding it to eight rooms.Throughout the time the customer demands have changed and the owner of Odzun B&B realized that they need to comply with this trend in order to keep a steady flow of customers. The visitors wanted to see hotel features in the guesthouses. Thus they decided to build an additional premise, which allowed to accommodate 16 more guests. Here each room has its own bathroom, there’s a huge waiting hall and a resting area.

Currently, they offer both the guesthouse and tourist house options. If in the first case one stays in a separate room, in the tourist house visitors can stay at the owner’s house and share their daily life with them. 
The guesthouse offers the visitors not only comfortable accomodation facilities but also eco and agro tourism experiences, such as hiking, jeep tours, various masterclasses, including of honey production, tea drinking ceremonies, homemade vodka distillation and barbeque making. Here at Odzun B&B you can taste both traditional and modern cuisine.

The team of the guesthouse participated in various trainings starting from cooking to marketing. They took every chance and all this is meant to bring you an exceptional experience. So, what is your next destination?

 

Matchbox Labels Museum in the heart of Tumanyan city, Lori

Tumanyan – the city located in the gorge of Debed in Lori region and carrying the name of the famous Armenian author Hovhannes Tumanyan, already has its own small matchbox labels museum.

Raffi Kojyan, the founder of the museum, who used to travel to Kobayr village, once appeared in Tumanyan and fell in love with the site. When he found out about the old house available near the main square, he decided to take the initiative and create something there, as he saw a huge potential in this area. Previously, there used to be a museum in that building and he decided to continue that legacy and reopen a museum. But one thing was clear; it had to be an extraordinary museum exhibiting items that were unusual for the locals. His choice rested on matchbox labels, because Raffi himself is a collector of these labels and currently owns thousands of various designs. “The variety of matchbox labels is enormous, illustrating different themes and styles, and there are designs for all interests and tastes and that’s definitely a material worth having a museum”, says Raffi. So, he decided to use his hobby for attracting and creating interest towards the beautiful city of Tumanyan. The square there looks very European and beautiful and is something worth attracting. The museum has opened its doors, after Raffi renovated the interior and installed a lighting specific to that type of tiny exponents.