YEREVAN, May 20. /ARKA/. The Deputy Chairman of Armenian parliament Vahe Enfiajyan met today with representatives of the tourism sector to discuss ways of supporting and recovering the tourism industry hit heavily by the coronavirus pandemic.
Enfiajyan said all the mechanisms for phased stabilization and recovery of the industry should be carefully discussed. He added that some of the issues will be included in the agenda of the next session of the parliament.
The head of the Armenian Tourism Federation, Mehak Apresyan, in turn, noted that stabilization and recovery of the tourism sector should be one of the priority tasks for Armenia, since the country’s economic development is to a large extent connected with this sector.
“The government’s anti-crisis measures have been important for stabilizing the sector, since the existence of the tourism business today requires finances and hope for positive changes and the recovery of overall economic activity,” he said.
At the same time, Apresyan noted that the anti-crisis measures taken promptly by the government cannot help the sector to recover, as business entities are 100% devoid of income, but have tax, credit and other obligations.
“The industry needs serious investments and transformations, attraction of innovations and new solutions,” he said.
As Apresyan noted, the first and third anti-crisis measures of the government are not designed for the tourism sector, as economic entities will begin to recover revenues only in April 2021, and in the best case scenario, by the end of the tourist season.
“Thus, even in the best case scenario, business entities will not be able to pay off debts by the end of the year. Two years is not enough for this. Thus, the best solution for the tourism sector would be to provide loans not for 24 months, but for 3 years with an annual grace period,” he said.
At a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the government plans to restore air communication interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, it is too early to talk about the possible number of tourists, since it all depends on the global attitude to coronavirus.
Pashinyan noted that efforts should be switched to the development of local tourism.
A 30-day state of emergency to curb the spread of coronavirus was declared in Armenia on March 16 and restrictions were imposed on free movement of citizens. The government banned also some types of economic activity. On April 13, the government extended the state of emergency for another month and on May 4 it lifted the ban on almost all types of economic activity and the free movement of citizens, except for public transport. On May 14, the government has again extended the state of emergency for another 30 days.
However, despite the extension, public transport, preschools, trading centers, restaurants and gyms have reopened starting from May 18, and wearing of masks has become mandatory in public spaces.
According to the latest official data, some 2,164 people have recovered from Covid-19, while the confirmed cases have grown to 5,041. Also, 64 deaths from the disease have been reported in the country.