$500 million lost by Armenia’s tourism industry – expert

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YEREVAN, August 21. /ARKA/. The total amount of losses in the Armenian tourism sector is about $ 500 million, President of the Armenian Tourism Federation Mekhak Apresyan said at a news conference on Thursday.

Apesyan said that according to the data, Armenia hosted around 311,000 tourists in the first half of 2020, and this inflow mostly came in the first quarter. In the second quarter, there were no visits because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we compare this with the same period of the previous year, when there were a little more than 770,000 visits to Armenia, it turns out that in the first half of the year we lost over 460,000 tourists, according to minimum estimates,” he said.

Apresyan said that under normal conditions, tourism in Armenia was expected to grow by at least 10%, and 460,000 visits should have brought more than $ 350 million.

“If we add domestic and outbound tourism to inbound tourism, losses in the sphere will total about $ 500 million,” he said.

The expert noted that the crisis situation in the tourism sector continues, however, domestic tourism in Armenia is gradually becoming more active.

“This was the policy: to start the restoration of the sphere with domestic tourism,” Apresyan said.

The expert said that it is very important to retain the tourism business, especially jobs. According to Apresyan, the government should subsidize salaries not once, but monthly, since the main process of restoration of the tourism sector under the best scenario will take place in April 2021.

“From July this year to March next year, inclusive, the state should co-finance the salaries of economic entities of the sphere every month. If an economic entity in August this year had 70% of the number of employees, compared to the same period last year, then 33% of the salary fund for August 2020 will be co-financed by the government if less than 70%, then 25% will be co-financed,” he said.

The expert noted that the crisis situation in the tourism sector continues, however, domestic tourism in Armenia is gradually becoming more active.

“This was the policy: to start the restoration of the sphere with domestic tourism,” Apresyan said.

Apresyan noted that it is necessary to begin the restoration of air communication from September, as well as to allow the holding of festivals in the country. He emphasized that tourism is that phenomenal area that has a positive impact on economic development: if there is stable tourism, then there is a positive impact on stable economic development and vice versa.

“If we suddenly allow the collapse of the tourism sector, then a negative impact on the economy may appear,” he said.

Tourism Situation

Earlier, Armenian Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan said that the tourism sector of Armenia has lost 90% of its turnover.

Among the anti-crisis measures, the Armenian government in August approved a program of assistance to tourism sector. The target group of this program is organizations involved in tourist segment’s activities, such as the organization of accommodation, catering and travel services.

The assistance will come as subsidizing the wages of every third or every fourth employee, that is, subsidizing 25-30% of the salary fund. More assistance will be given to organizations that, despite the reduction in income, retained at least 70% of jobs.

About COVID-19 Situation 

A state of emergency was declared in Armenia on March 16, 2020 in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19, and then it was extended five times. Thus, according to the government’s decision of August 12, the state of emergency is in effect in Armenia until 17:00 on September 11.
At the same time, restrictions on free movement and some types of economic activity introduced from March 24 were lifted on May 4, and, public transport, gyms, kindergartens and catering facilities resumed operating from May 18. From August 12, foreigners’ entry to the country was allowed. Holding meetings and rallies was allowed as well, but with wearing masks and observing social distance.

According to the latest daily report released Thursday morning, there are 42,319 confirmed COVID-19 infection cases, 836 deaths and 35,476 recovered people in Armenia. -0—

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