Interview with Sisian Boghossian

Head of the Tourism Committee of the Republic Of Armenia

Sisian Boghossian 

Head of the Tourism Committee of the Republic of Armenia

Today we have a great traveler, Ms. Sisian Boghossian, Head of the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia.

She has an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and Organizational Behavior and she has spent the last 15 years of her career in Canada in marketing and product management roles.

In 2019 she decided to travel and work in Armenia, where she worked for the American University of Armenia (AUA) and for the Armenian Football Federation, a sport she loves.

She was appointed to her role as the head of the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy in January of 2022, with the personal goal of raising the profile of Armenia as a tourist destination on the world stage.

Dear Ms. Sisian Boghossian, the president of the Tourism and Society Think Tank, Mr. Antonio Santos, a great traveler like you, always tells us that Armenia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and a great unknown, what does tourism for a country like Armenia look like?

Armenia’s deep-rooted history, delicious wine and cuisine, breathtaking rugged landscapes, and hospitable spirit make it a unique destination for tourists. 

From the Armenia Tourism Committee, what are the main lines of work that you are developing at the moment?

The Tourism Committee is responsible for setting the strategic direction for the industry in Armenia as well as developing the tourism policy. We also take great care of the image and brand of Armenia as a tourism destination. We are in charge of promoting Armenia as a tourism destination internationally and also work very closely with the private sector.

What does tourism offer for the development of your country?

Tourism is a significant contributor to Armenian Economy. In fact, in 2019 (our strongest year yet) tourism was 14% of our GDP. Strengthening tourism in Armenia, means strengthening Armenia as a country. And so, it is a key focus for us as it also brings in investors and job opportunities as well.

What are the main challenges facing tourism in Armenia?

The key challenges for Armenia continue to be infrastructure, brand awareness, and seasonality. We continue to focus on building infrastructure to ensure we can host more tourists in the country. Armenia is still a quite unknown tourism destination and so we are focusing efforts in promoting Armenia and what it can offer tourists. And lastly, many of our tourists visit between May to October and so it’s quite seasonal. We are also focusing on building winter tourism products to ensure tourists are also interested to visit Armenia during the “off-season”.

The history of the country is one of the great attractions of Armenia, tell us what is the most remarkable thing we have to visit?

There are many remarkable things to discover in Armenia. Armenia with its deep-rooted history and culture has a lot to offer. Being the first nation to accept Christianity as a religion in 301 AD, you will find many churches and monasteries across the country that are centuries old. 

Armenia is also one of the oldest winemaking nations in the world. In fact, Areni-1 Winery is a 6,100-year-old winery that was discovered in 2007 in the Vayots Dzor region of Armenia. It is the oldest winery in the world discovered to date. In that same cave, the world's oldest leather shoe which dates back to 3500 BC was also discovered. This more than 5,500-year-old artifact was perfectly preserved since it was stuffed with grass. You can visit the History Museum of Armenia for a glimpse of this fashionable artifact.

Lastly, Wings of Tatev is the world's longest reversible cableway (5,752 m) and is on the Guinness Book of Records. It is the most impressive route to the beautiful and mystic Tatev Monastery.

Sevanavank Monastery, Lake Sevan 

Zvartnots Cathedral (UNESCO Tangible Heritage List)

What other attractions do you recommend?

Despite its small size, Armenia has a lot to offer in art and culture, delectable cuisine and wine, breathtaking nature and adventure, leisure and more. The scenery changes quite a bit from one region to the next. From lush green forests in Tavush to rocky, desert like scenery in Vayots Dzor you will be mesmerized by the variety in Armenia. Visit to plan your trip or for inspiration on things to do and see during your stay in Armenia.

And in your opinion, how has the national tourism industry evolved?

Tourism is becoming more and more important for the country. Over the last 10 years, Armenia on average has had a 10% increase YoY in tourism (minus 2020/2021). Seeing double digit growth in the industry has made it clear that Armenia is truly becoming more and more interesting for travelers. We are now working more strategically in positioning Armenia as a tourism destination while supporting the industry domestically.

How would you define the current situation of tourism in your country?

We have started 2023 with record breaking numbers in tourism. In the first quarter alone, we have welcomed approximately 450,000 tourists – a 35% increase compared to 2019 (our best year yet). We are actually recovering quite well and quite fast post pandemic, compared to other countries globally. We hope to continue this trend for the remainder of the year.

Armenia is being discovered in a few years now, what are you developing to strengthen the image and the country brand?

We rebranded last year as Armenia, The Hidden Track. It has been received very well by the international community. There is a surprise element about our country, this small nation in the caucuses. We also have launched a new website where you can find out more information about our beautiful country, what to do and see.

With a new brand, it is important to have consistency in messaging and tone of voice. In all of our marketing activities including events, promotions, publications and more, we are showcasing the same message about Armenia in a friendly, passionate, and bold manner so we start gaining recognition and become top of mind for tourists interested in discovering new destinations.

Our new brand positions Armenia with 4 key pillars in mind: culture, nature, adventure, and gastro. 

Road to Meghri from Kapan

In your opinion, what are the country's main tourist resources that make it different from the offer found in neighboring countries?

Armenia’s ancient heritage, pristine nature and rugged landscapes, combined with its hospitality, and rich culinary scene all at an affordable price is what sets it apart from other destinations. 

It is an undiscovered gem with a positive vibe, providing tourists with authentic experiences off the beaten path.

Armenia is located in a strategic geographical environment, but also with major conflicts around it. Do you think this situation could affect the development of tourism in your country?

It is important to note that Armenia has been and continues to be a safe destination. In fact, its capital city Yerevan was just named as one of the top safest cities in the world studied by Numbeo. And so many families choose to travel to Armenia with their children, but also it is quite attractive for solo travelers.

Gastronomic offer, leisure, heritage, etc., in what fields do you think that the offer in Armenia is different?

Depending on the tourist or which country they are visiting from, tourists are interested in different things. Those visiting Armenia will definitely enjoy our rich cultural heritage present in every aspect of life. Many of those are listed on the UNESCO tangible and intangible list.

Many of our tourists love our cuisine – a melting pot of east and west – Europe and Asia. And of course, Armenians are known for their wine and brandy, and you can always enjoy a glass sitting on the patio on the bustling streets of Yerevan.

When it comes to nature, hiking is one of the key pillars for Armenia as an attractive tourism destination and well-known international publications are naming Armenia as THE hiking destination in the region. This is due to its beautiful rugged mountains, untouched nature, and peaceful atmosphere.

And a flavor that will surprise us?

Hospitality. Armenians are known to welcome guests into their homes – even those they don’t know. Which is why we say: there are no strangers here, just family you haven’t met yet!

Thank you very much for your kindness and a big greeting from our president, Mr. Antonio Santos. From the TSTT we are at your disposal for everything that your great country needs.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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