We are united to promote ecotourism - the
force that will contribute to a better understanding of our natural and
cultural heritage and will provide revenue to the local community sufficient
for people to value, and, therefore protect the environment as a source of
Who are we?
Mission: The Armenian Ecotourism Association (ARMECAS) is a non-governmental non-profit organization founded to provide support and assistance for the revive and restore of the natural and cultural-historical heritage of Armenia, as well as improving the welfare of the population through the development of ecotourism.
To create a strategy for sustainable development of ecotourism
To provide centralized information and technical assistance to organizations and individuals involved in ecotourism.
To involve rural communities in ecotourism activities.
To organize public efforts to promote activities concerning environmental protection and preservation of natural, cultural and historical monuments.
To carry out awareness raising campaigns in partnership with the media with the aim of highlighting environmental protection activities.
To contribute to the improvement of environmental law and tourism law.
| Assessment of
Armenian ecotourism potential. Elaboration, planning and sample study of
Our expeditions and trips allow for the study of opportunities for ecotourism development in Armenia, as well as the establishment of contacts and the promotion of sustainable tourism principles in rural regions among businessmen, local communities, non-governmental organizations and officials.
We have also planned and tested multiple ecotours, differentiated by types and levels of difficulty.
Analysis of modern
international experience in ecotourism development.
ARMECAS emphasizes the identification of cases where
nature is irreversibly damaged as a result of economic activities. The
organization strives to find alternative ways and legal mechanisms for the
prevention and elimination of existing problems.
Tourist Information Center (funded by Eurasia Foundation) The extensive
database was collected and the TourismArmenia web site was launched
Courses for non-traditional tourism guides were organized.
The project Sevan - Clean Shore (funded by USIS)
Ecotourism Association is the initiator, author and co-producer of
"Development of Eco/Agrotourism in the Southern Caucasus" regional
project (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia)
(The project has been financed by the South Caucasus Cooperation Program of the Eurasia Foundation
The project has included the following activities:
Survey of eco/agrotourism potential.
Launch of advertisement and marketing campaign for the Southern Caucasus Eco/Agrotourist using a joint database, joint website (eatsc.ecotourismarmenia.com) , and advertisement journal.
Creation of joint eco/agrotourism itineraries and advertisement and promotion of them for internal and external markets.
Provision of information about tourist routes to tourist companies, as well as consulting and technical support for their implementation to private structures.
in Mountain Regions - Influence on Natural and Cultural Diversity
international workshop was held in Yerevan, Armenia 27-29 October 2003.
Development and publication of the
Ecotourism in the Specially Protected Natural Areas: Guide for Planning and Management.
Development of the ecotourism parts of the Management Plans for the Specially Protected Natural Areas of Armenia.
Organization of the Ecotourism Planning and
Management Training for tourism staff and/or managers of the protected
areas. Financed by Norwegian Government:
Assistance to Establishment of new National Park
"Arevik" in Southern Armenia:
VIVA_EASTPART. - Valorisation and Improving of management of Small Historic Centres in the Eastern Partnership region (Romania, Italy, Moldova, Armenia) Financed by Investing in People and Eastern Partnership Culture programm of the EU: Strengthening capacities in the cultural sector. www.vivaeastpart.eu; www.culturaldilijan.am
CERTOUR - Quality Certification System in Agrotourism (Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) Financed by JOP "Black Sea Basin 2007-2013" program of the EU. www.certour.eu
will continue to contribute to the growth of effective ecotourism policy by the
into Armenia's ecotourism potential.
The private tourism sector in planning, advertising, promotion and
implementation of ecotours.
|To protect the
environment, we should be able
to contemplate and to appreciate the value of its fragile beauty.
impossible to keep nature under glass in order to protect it. To do this we
have to show people the mechanism of profiting from nature preservation, or in
other words to provide financial incentive for the restoration and protection
of the natural and cultural environment.
Ecotourism is "traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any exciting cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in this area " (Ceballos-Lascurain, 1987, WWF, Vol.1, 1990).
Tourism in natural areas may be called ecotourism only when it meets three main requirements: promoting protection of the natural and cultural heritage, raising awareness of environmental protection, and improving the welfare of local inhabitants.
1. Revival and protection of natural and
2. Improving welfare of local people.
One of the greatest incentives for conservation among local communities is to establish tourism as a sustainable revenue source. It is necessary to discuss with local communities, facilitating wide-ranging and open participation - local accommodation, particularly rural homes, all types of transportation, all meals, sale of local handicrafts, use local guides.
3. Environmental education.
To protect the environment we should be able to contemplate and to appreciate the value of its fragile beauty. Ecotourism stimulates among travelers and inhabitants an awareness, appreciation and understanding of the ecosystem and the need for preservation. It is necessary to have appropriate personnel and programs to educate visitors.
impact on ecological systems and ethnic populations. Groups are small in number
to prevent adverse effects on the environment. Tour members are briefed about
each encounter in the tour, and what behavior will provide the least negative
impact on the local environment.
Employ only qualified specialists in the field of interest for each tour. Guide lectures are informative, understandable and accurate. Activities are enjoyable, but not detrimental to the natural and ethnic environment.
Appropriate pre-tour preparation. Tour members are briefed before arrival about the ecological and ethnic cultures they will encounter in their travel, as well as the unique cultural environment in Armenia, helping them to enjoy Armenia without inadvertently having a negative impact as a guest. Customs, traditions, appropriate behavior as a guest, ways to prevent upsetting the ecological balance are maintained and encouraged by trained guides, who are working scientists in the field of interest for the tour, and concerned about saving their environment.
Promote local conservation and cultural contact through Ecotourism. The Ecotours employ local people at all levels of management and operation. Wherever possible, service providers come from the eco and ethnic areas to be visited. Contact between Tour members and the local population is encouraged to both promote inter-cultural understanding and to promote eco friendly businesses, which will do much to preserve the environment.
Support local ecological initiatives. Income from Ecotours employ scientists, naturalists and the local population. Tour prices include a donation to fund ecological preservation and maintenance programs.
Waste Management Practices. Ecotours will promote responsible waste management at all times, including using recyclable and biodegradable products whenever possible, advising tour members how to minimize the amount of disposable items brought into Armenia, and insuring all waste products from a tour are removed from visited areas in an eco-friendly way.
Encourage personal commitments from Tour Members. Ecotours encourage tour members to aid in conservation efforts in Armenia, by contacting appropriate authorities on the value and need for conservation in Armenia, volunteering for local conservation projects, and aiding in the budding education process on the local level to the benefits of eco-friendly living.
| Ideas of
ARMECAS largely reverberate in our country. We have people of various
backgrounds and age groups as our members. These are environmental
professionals, specialists in the spheres of preservation of cultural and
historical heritage, people working in the tourism industry, mountain-climbers
and many others. We are all in love with nature and our Motherland. We
traditionally have caring attitude towards the nature, waste management,
disposition and equipping of camping stations, educating cautious attitude of
children and youth towards nature. We also have a trained staff of guides and
instructors knowing every corner of Armenia. ARMECAS welcomes local and foreign
membership. By becoming a member of ARMECAS you'll assist preservation of this
land of unique nature, history and culture.
Ecotourism and its role in sustainable development of the country
What is ecotourism? What are the prospects for its
development in Armenia? How can it promote development of our country?
the borders of specially protected natural areas are drawn
incorrectly without taking into account the integrity of natural systems;
Can our country allocate enough resources for the
preservation of specially protected natural areas? If not, maybe it is worth
while to think of ecological tourism as a means of managing specially protected
natural areas and providing funds for environmental protection and scientific
activities at these areas. This method is applied in many countries and called
the commonly accepted term of "ecological management." An important
type of ecotourism is where tourists assist scientific expeditions with both
finances and participation. International organizations such as Earthwatch,
Smithsonian Research Expeditions, the Foundation for Field Research and others
support and sponsor scientific expeditions with funds and organize groups of
tourists composed mainly of explorers and students who are eager to collect
scientific material, and participate in the expeditions and everyday protection
1. there are natural, cultural, historic and human
1. there is no understanding of the ideology, purpose
and mechanisms of ecotourism at all (while there is a distinct unwholesome
interest in hunting tours).
Ecotourism has powerful mechanisms to solve both
ecological and social problems. Like traditional tourism,
ecotourism is an efficient means for a country's economic development and plays
a significant role in people's well being, especially those in rural areas: it
provides jobs for local guides and organizers, income from the use of local
transport, rural inns and houses are considered the best places for tourists to
stay and enjoy local food, and tourists buy folk and handicraft objects and
attend folk ensemble performances. Ecotourism thereby promotes human resources
development and social stability, providing jobs for many people.
Ecotourism in Armenia: opportunities, prospects, problems
Armenia's relatively untouched natural areas and great number of historical monuments (from pagan sanctuaries till ancient and medieval Christian monuments) present opportunities for ecotourism development. Armenia has widely diversified ecosystems: five of seven primary topographies exist in this small country (about 30,000 sq. kilometers), which provides for remarkable bio-systems in flora and fauna. Because of its diverse topography, Armenia's mountains experience seven springs during the warm weather season, with permanent snow capped mountain peaks just a few hours drive from subtropical valleys. Armenian Flora includes approximately 3500 species of higher vascular plants. The diversity of Armenian Fauna is also quite substantial, due to the mountainous landscape and diversity of habitats. In addition, the country is located along one of the major migratory flyways, and has several sites of great importance for migrating birds. Recent surveys have shown that there are 350 species of birds, belonging to 18 orders and 58 families, 84 mammals, 8 amphibians, 53 reptiles and 39 fish in Armenia.
Armenia has a developed system of protected
territories: 4 natural preserves, 22 State reservations, 2 National Parks that
occupy 10% of its total territory. Currently, 2 additional National Parks -
Arpi and Jermuk - are in the process of being established. Each of these
territories provides endless opportunities for ecotourism development.
A preliminary marketing survey has revealed a demand for the following types of Ecotours in Armenia: bird-watching, botanical and zoological tours, geo-environmental tourism, cave tours, mineralogical tours, historical and ethnographical tours and all kinds of adventure tourism - horseback-riding, hiking, mountaineering, mountain skiing, waterspouts (yachting, windsurfing), parachuting and cycling. All of the above-mentioned tours, can be organized as both scientific tours and general tours for mainstream tourists and naturalists.
Its rich natural, cultural and human potential are
encouraging for Armenia to make its first steps in the implementation of
1. 1 World Bank/Government of Armenia - "Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction" Project. This project includes Ecotourism development component in the provinces of Tavush and Gegharkunik - National Parks of Dilijan and Sevan. The preliminary activities were completed recently and project implementation has started.
The following activities will be financed:
Tourism infrastructure development - visitor centers, campsites,
limited number of mountain huts, tourism infrastructure connecting key
historical, architectural and natural monuments on the territory of the Parks,
reconstruction of roads.
2. Armenian Ecotourism Association is the initiator,
author and co-producer of "Development of Eco/Agrotourism in the Southern
Caucasus" regional project. The project is financed by the Cooperation
Program of the Eurasia Foundation. The development of tourism in many countries
has forwarded the notion that Ecotourism (that initially appeared as a
mechanism of natural and cultural environment protection) and Agrotourism (a
mechanism of rural social and economical development) are two closely
interconnected and mutually enriching activities. The landscape, climate, and
social-economic conditions of Southern Caucasus region approximate these types
of tourism, as well as adventure tourism and allow gathering them under joint
niche of Eco/Agrotourism.
3. Community-based tourism Project in Tatev village of
Siunik province. Here natural wonders neighbor the architectural masterpieces
of ancient Armenia. Tatev monastery ( IX-XIII cc.), largest spiritual,
political, cultural and educational center of medieval Armenia, is situated at
the edge of deep canyon and easily blends into amazing beauty of surrounding
mountains. The monastery hosted the University that functioned over millennia
ago. The canyon is rich by attractions - it has 2 other architectural
monuments, mineral water springs and "The Devil's Bridge" natural
monument on Vorotan River.
Like in other countries with economy in transition the ecotourism development faces numerous obstacles. Some problems and resolutions, particular to Armenia, are presented below:
1. Many tour companies try to advertise and to conduct
nature tours, but very few have had success and reached large audiences.
3. Successful development of Ecotourism is hindered by the numerous problems faced by protected territories- disputed boundaries and zonal division, insufficient number of qualified personnel, weak material support, absence of reproduction basis. The absence of legal mechanisms ensuring the repayment of economic activity (including tourism) income immediately to the protected territory, rather than through government budget is important. Currently, the Armenian government in undertaking actions to resolve this problem.
Ecotourism has all the prerequisites to become an important link in sustainable development of the country. The Armenian Government understands the importance of detailed research and planning in this area. Currently, activities are implemented to create a joint national strategy for development of Ecotourism and Agrotourism in Armenia. That national strategy is called upon to regulate the whole spectrum of problems: define natural zones, permitted for Ecotourism development, the types of tourist activity for each zone, necessary works for preparation of these zones for tourist activity, income distribution mechanisms for environmental protection, involvement of rural communities and numerous other issues.
Tourism and Recreation studies, as well as developed the ecotourism parts of the Management Plans for the "Sevan" and "Dilijan" National Parks, as well as for the "Khosrov" State Reserve
The ongoing activities:
Tourism and Recreation studies to develop the ecotourism parts of the Management Plans for two new Specially Protected Natural Area in Southern Armenia. The next activity will be on the territory of the planned Trans-boundary Specially Protected Natural Area in Northern Armenia
Project "Assistance to Establishment of the New Specially Protected Natural Area Arevik in Southern Armenia". Funding organization: Conservation International Foundation (CI)/ Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF ) under the general supervision of the WWF Armenian Branch.
Development and publication of the "Biodiversity
and Ecotourism. Guide for Ecotourism Planning and Management in the Specially
Protected Natural Areas. (funded by USA Embassy in Armenia).