TAVUSH։ Your Next Destination

TAVUSH։ Your Next Destination

Tavush Tourism Development Agency (TDA) has operated since 2013 and accomplished a lot of interesting initiatives. In 2020 with the support of EU4Business ITTD (Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia) project, agency opened a new page in its history. Regional post sat down with the Chairman of TDA’s Board of Directors Gor Alexanyan to talk about tourism in the Tavush region, the role of TDA in it, and also about the achievements on their way up. 

Text : Margarit Mirzoyan    Photo : TDA


Marketing Tavush

“To successfully develop and promote tourism, one of the most important preconditions besides possessing the resources is how you use those resources and how institutionalized your approaches are. TDA’s idea is to provide that institutional base for further promotion of tourism in Tavush region and to become the coordinating organization which will gather and lead the beneficiaries in that area and amplify their voices,” says Gor Alexanyan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tavush Tourism Development Agency. The TDA NGO was established based on the initiative of GIZ, in 2013. It is a community-based organization based on the DMO model. The latter opens as “Destination Marketing Organization,” and basically, promotes a certain location as an attractive tourism destination. TDA was the first organization to apply this model in Armenia.

 

Organizations fostering DMO approaches are of two types; community-based (which is the case for TDA) and corporate (based on business). The Board of Directors is formed correspondingly: in the case of community-based DMO, the Board involves representatives of that particular community and local public institutions; in the corporate DMO, business entities and organizations are included. TDA’s Board of Directors includes founding communities, local administration, the Tavush YSU branch, and the Leader of Tavush Diocese. According to Gor Alexanyan, the ideal version is when those two DMOs are combined and that’s the primary target of TDA in the future. 

 

Past and Present 

In the first years of its establishment, the organization mainly focused on knowledge and experience exchange. Gor Alexanyan joined the TDA team in 2019, and they decided to concentrate their operations on the creation of the Tavush Tourism Development Concept. In the meantime, the agency also supported, coordinated, and participated in different festivals in the region. TDA also developed a trail near the Noyemberyan city leading to the Mshkavanq monastery. The agency planned to continue this process near the Berd community, but first there was the pandemic, then the July escalation took place, and finally, there was the 44-day war. 


Gor Alexanyan

 

Last year, in the context of the pandemic, TDA applied an interesting idea to the Innovation program of GIZ. Following the trends set by the new pandemic, the organization came up with an initiative related to the digitalization of tourism processes.
“They say, ‘No tourist – no tourism’. But what if a tourist somehow appears here? The tourism sector representatives themselves have already begun this process realizing the importance of integrating digital solutions and skills into their work”, says Gor Aleksanyan. These skills are public speaking, video editing, publishing, blogging, and vlogging. So, the program proposed the “tour guide logging” (t-logging) term. As a result of their multidimensional project, tour guides received more in-depth knowledge on how to present their actual tours organized in Armenia via digital platforms and with high quality on both technical and content levels. 

Tavush is famous for its medieval churches and monasteries

 

During the pandemic, TDA also had a chance to develop their website and, currently, they are going to strengthen the website to make it more user-friendly for both the tour guides and the tourists. Another achievement of the organization was the promotional video for the Tavush region as a tourism destination. The video exceeded 100,000 views organically. It’s in open access for everyone who wishes to use it for the promotion of Tavush. Additionally, they put together the overall brand book of Tavush, again in free access. Other products of their work are the digital maps of Tavush sites and destinations – including churches, trails, and infrastructures. 

Beauty of Tavush

 

The Future

As Gor Alexanyan highlighted, the perfect DMO model for similar organizations such as TDA is the combination of community-based and corporate types. “At this moment, the main function of TDA is the coordination of the parties involved in tourism, not management and monitoring, but coordination,” says Gor Alexanyan. “We think that TDA should continue strengthening and coordinating, but additionally put more emphasis on collaborating with business organizations,” he adds.

Mr. Alexanyan also sees TDA as a research center, not only an organization based on cooperation. In other words, the team of the agency wants it to become multifunctional and work in several directions. Finally, TDA doesn’t want to coordinate the processes only inside the Tavush region, but it also wants cooperation opportunities outside of the region, strengthening the network inside the RA and also ensuring the solid representation of the country on international platforms.

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