The event was organized by the 2nd year students of the “Sustainable Tourism” Master Program of the Faculty of Geography and Geology.
The attendees were given an opportunity to get acquainted with the history of tourism development in Kalavan community.
Dean of the Faculty of Geography and Geology Marat Grigoryan, Head of the Service Department Seyran Suvaryan, resident of Kalavan community of Gegharkunik province, Director of Time Lend Foundation Robert Ghukasyan, faculty members and students were present at the meeting.
Marat Grigoryan thanked everyone for organization of the event and spoke about the possibilities of tourism development in Armenia. “Our country’s capacities are not great, but the nature of Armenia, its warmth and relationships, and the national dishes create excellent conditions for the development of tourism in the communities. Thus, an opportunity is given to solve some of the economic issues.”
Seyran Suvaryan said such events help reveal the students’ skills and capabilities: “Without the village we are nothing, and we should not only refer to the village, but also the whole spectrum.”
Robert Ghukasyan presented the history of the development of the Kalavan community and the conditions in which they have succeeded: “We did not even imagine that in 2013 we could develop tourism in our community. We have very bad roads, only 20 families in the community, and 18 pupils in the school.”
According to Mr. Ghukasyan, the first attempt was the start of archeological tourism: “We built a small Neolithic dwelling and tried to show how the man lived in that era. 102 tourists visited in a month. We faced a variety of problems. It took a long time to eliminate tourist barriers. Tourism cannot develop itself, so we started to develop the community first. We have compiled a ten-year community development program.”
Robert Ghukasyan mentions that they have developed a model by which other communities are also trying to develop. The most important thing is to use all available resources: “It is necessary to make a combination of strengths and weaknesses, at that time weaknesses are turned into a competitive advantage. It is possible to develop tourism even by using bad conditions. For example, difficult roads and rich nature can develop adventure tourism.”
During the meeting the attendees asked Robert Ghukasyan their questions.