Setting the ground for innovative tourism in Armenia’s regions

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Setting the ground for innovative tourism in Armenia’s regions

The hackathon aimed at generating innovative ideas for tourism was launched on April 7, 2018 in Vanadzor Technology Center (VTC) – located at Armenia’s Lori Region.

Around 50 young and enthusiastic teams gathered at VTC to compete around innovative and ingenious ideas that could be turned into models and embedded into regional tourism development.  The idea is  supported by the European Union and Armenian Government and thus, EU-SMEDA project partnered with VTC and Enterprise Incubator Foundation to make this happen.

The opening ceremony was attended by  H.E. Mr. Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Armenia who has stressed the importance to mobilise the energy and creativity of the youth to boost Armenia’s economy.  He thanked the competing young teams and encouraged them to be active: “Don’t be afraid to lose as life is about failures but also successes!”, stressed the Ambassador. EU is ready to support the tourism sector of Armenia given the interest of tourists towards the country with 1,5 million of tourists visiting Armenia last years and a big potential for growth ahead. Mr. Świtalski thinks that Armenians have genetic talent for entrepreneurship and here EU is again supporting Armenia to boost the SME sector. And finally Lori region is on high agenda of the European Union and more support will be directed to boost the local economy.

 Mr. Vahan Martirosyan, Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies of Armenia addressed the participants with an opening speech and expressed Government’s readiness to stand with the organisers and support the generated ideas further.

The Governor of Lori Marz Mr. Artur Nalbandyan mentioned that the event is of high importance for Lori and they plan to hold it annually from there on. The region used to be an industrial hub but has a big potential for tourism development as well.  So the regional administration is very keen on taking that direction and will support the winning ideas of hackathon and present them to the Government to bring them to life.

Ms. Zarmine Zeituntsian, Chairperson, State Committee for Tourism mentioned that the idea to bring the IT and innovation into the tourism sector was being discussed for a long time and the hackathon is the start of it. “In the world of digitisation and smart gadgets that has well encompassed tourism sector and tourists,  the country shall be responsive and direct resources to develop related applications for tourists with advanced, compatible and user-friendly methods. Thus, the innovative ideas expected from the hackathon are highly appreciated”, she mentioned.

Ms. Eva Naeher, Team leader of the EU “Support to SME Development in Armenia (SMEDA)” project mentioned that SMEDA was delighted to become part of the hackathon and support Vanadzor Technology Center (VTC) and Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) to make it happen. She believes that creative and inspiring ideas could set the ground to develop the regional tourism. “We expect never-seen-before ideas that could lift up the tourism sector in Lori, the teams should be brave with their ideas and should not be disappointed if they fail, but rather become stronger, improve their ideas and push them further”, she advised the participants.

Among the officials was also the Deputy Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies of Armenia Ms. Amalya Yeghoyan who not only once mentioned about the importance to revive the regions and use the potential of regional youth. She will be also a member of jury for the second day of the hackathon.

After the conclusion of the official part, the participating teams began their marathon for 24 hours. They will pitch their ideas to the professional jury on the second day and the best ones will be selected and awarded with prizes by EU-SMEDA project, EIF and Lori Regional Administration. Good luck to them and let’s wait for the “never- seen- before ideas” then!

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