26 February, 2020 18:01

Towards a More Touristic Armenia: a Companion Guide for Travellers

By Mari Sahakyan

Aram Vardanyan, a traveler who grew up in Etchmiadzin and Megan Starr, a blogger from Richmond, Virginia, met each other on the streets during Armenia’s “velvet revolution” in 2018. Amidst the protests, the travel enthusiasts connected and the idea of creating a travel blog was born. Through love and passion for travel, in 2019, Absolute Armenia was born. 

“We don’t only focus on historical aspects, we try to attract all types of travelers, both the ones who come after the rich culture and those who prefer the more modern Armenia,” explains Aram.

The website also aims to be a good resource for the Armenian communities abroad that want to invest in Armenia. It promotes small start-ups and showcases the best industries for investment. 

Aram Vardanyan, in his trip to Sevan Most importantly, the platforms are meant to serve as a travel guide for those who choose to spend their holidays in Armenia. In fact, in recent years, Armenia appeared in the center of attention for the travelers. In “Top 10 destinations to discover in 2020”, Booking.com promoted Yerevan as one of the most attractive cities for tourists, and in general, the internet was crammed with articles promoting Armenia as one of the best destinations for tourists. 

This all resulted in an increase in tourism in the last four years. According to the Ministry of Economy, from 2016 to 2020, Armenia saw an 18.5 percent growth in international tourism, compared to 14.1 percent in previous ten years. And, the launch of Ryanair’s flights to and from Armenia made the country even more affordable and accessible. 

But is Armenia properly equipped for this tourism boom? Although more and more tourists are visiting the country, there are still some issues that need to be resolved. For international tourists, for instance, the lack of English-speaking residents remains a big obstacle during their stay in Armenia. Outside of the center of Yerevan, it is difficult to communicate with the residents. And the further one goes, the harder it gets. 

Megan Starr in front of an abandoned building in Gavar

Landscape of Garni

An old Soviet monument in Gyumri

This is where Absolute Armenia comes in handy. Starting from sim cards and ending with historical backgrounds of landmarks, travelers are assisted each step of the way. 

“We try to gather all the needed information in one place, so that people have a place for reference when needed,” explains Aram. 

As Aram mentions, one of the most common problems for international tourists is the absence of English-language directions in the public transportation system. “It can get very confusing for tourists to understand how to reach their desired destination, that is why we include information on transportation when write about a specific place.” 

So far, the most read articles on the website have been the ones about Yerevan Wine Days, Hippest Bars in Yerevan, as well as a piece on Armenian Travel Apps. 

With the diversity of subjects tackled on the website, Absolute Armenia remains one of the first independent English-language websites in the country that works to ensure an enjoyable stay for the growing numbers of tourists.