Diversifying Tourism Offers in Vanadzor - Integrated Rural Tourism Development (IRTD), UNDP Armenia
Project example provided by:
Ruzanna Hayrapetyan, Project Associate, Integrated Rural Tourism Development (IRTD), UNDP Armenia
Mariluys Yeremyan, Project Expert, Integrated Rural Tourism Development (IRTD), UNDP Armenia
Vanadzor Industrial Tourism Center
To develop Vanadzor Industrial Tourism Center as a new and alternative urban tourism experience, diversifying tourism
Yerevan, Vanadzor, Gyumri and Goris, Republic of Armenia
Background: Reasons for This Project
Although most inbound visitors to Armenia (over 40% of whom come from Russia) seek nature and adventure experiences, there is a significant opportunities for urban areas across the country to develop niche products, tapping into the potential of cities in offering both attractive physical spaces for leisure and a new type of tourism experiences.
For this purpose, this project aims to develop known and new urban destinations highlighting diversified services (such as walking / cycling tours, wine tours, and area-specific traditional entertaining programs) and to create and strengthen income generating opportunities for local businesses and communities (with the aim of increasing the sector-related income from 5 to 15%).
Four cities - Yerevan, Vanadzor, Gyumri and Goris - have been chosen for this project to test the idea of positioning each town of Armenia differently and strictly based on existing resources, reputation and potential of each town. They have been selected taking into consideration their geography, existing tourism flow, socio-economic conditions, branding potential, as well as existing resources that can be milestones for positioning these towns as tourism destinations - e.g. wine tourism in Yerevan, cultural attractions in Gyumri, and industrial heritage experience in Vanadzor.
The project will pilot industrial tourism* products in one destination, Vanadzor, which will create a prototype for the other urban destinations.
*Industrial tourism = tourism that promotes sites and events originating from the sphere of industrial production (Source).
Business Options: Integrated Urban Tourism Development
The Vanadzor Industrial Tourism Center project supports the overall aim of strengthening tourism offerings of urban destinations by diversifying local products and services highlighting unique cultural assets and historical heritage.
Specifically, the pilot project in Vanadzor will also help introduce and spread the concept of industrial tourism in Armenia, potentially creating new opportunities in other urban destinations.
The development steps involved in the project include:
- Inventory of tourism assets: Assessment of local products and services and their attractiveness to the target markets.
- Socioeconomic analysis of each destination: Understanding the current number and groups of visitors, available services and infrastructures and their quality, interaction with the main tourism hubs in the region, urban tourism development potential, and environmental conditions.
- Participatory planning of integrated urban tourism development: Identifying relevant historical background, existing superstructure, community vision, objectives and targets for urban tourism development, tourism services development direction of each town selected.
- Coordination and cooperation: Developing frameworks for destination management (DMOs, R&D centers), establishing local supply chain.
- Destination action plans: Developing lists of activities, timescales, partners and responsible parties, with detailed site management plans.
- Branding: Positioning each city based on its strengths and existing resources, develop a brand book and key messages according to its main product focus.
- Capacity building: Organizing workshops for existing and potential entrepreneurs (including women and youth) interested in urban tourism related product development, food processing, packaging, hospitality services, etc.
- Seed funding for local tourism startups: Helping finance local entrepreneurs and their initiatives targeting significant social impact in the community.
- Rehabilitation of community infrastructure: Directing existing superstructure into right mainstream as well as implementing corresponding security and other construction activities.
- Marketing: Developing marketing materials and promotional activities (at the state level) to raise recognition of these urban destinations and their new and alternative offers - e.g. facilitating visits and interactions with tour agencies, participating in specialized events, local and international fairs, and coordinating print and broadcast media exposure.
Benefit Realisation: Positive Impacts of Tourism Growth
The project seeks to create lasting impacts in Armenia’s urban destinations by creating positive examples of cities growing tourism through new and alternative offers based on existing resources.
With more visitors and tour operators choosing to add the Vanadzor Industrial Tourism Center - and other alternative urban destination offers - in their itineraries, city residents will benefit from increased income opportunities.
The focus on developing interesting visitor experience will help rehabilitate infrastructure, which will also have a positive impact on the local qualify of life. In Vanadzor, the project focuses on the reconstruction and modification of existing industrial buildings and about 25 former factories, encouraging the local authorities to use existing property and post-Soviet heritage effectively.
In the long-term these developments can have lasting impacts on how cities budget and plan for infrastructure rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts.
Last but not least, the project will provide long-term benefits in terms of Improved human resources. Stakeholders, local businesses and industry professionals are trained to enhance their knowledge in hospitality management and service delivery, to gain a professional and customer-oriented attitude, and to achieve improved language skills.