Tourism in Armenia has been a key sector to the Armenian economy since the 1990s as half a million people visit the country every year (mostly ethnic Armenians from the Diaspora). The Armenian Ministry of Economy reports that most of the tourists come from the CIS, particularly Russia and Georgia, EU states, Iran and the United States.
Armenia has been investing in new hotels to increase tourism. Outdoor activities and scenery seem to be the primary attractions. Lake Sevan, the world’s largest mountain lake, is a popular summer tourist spot. The Tsakhkadzor ski resort is open for skiing in the winter and hiking and picnicking the rest of the year. Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, also boasts opera, theaters and other cultural attractions. Though relatively small in size, Armenia has UNESCO world heritage sites.
Tourism has been growing gradually in Armenia since 2000. The Republic of Armenia Ministry of Economy declared that 575,281 tourists visited Armenia in 2009, 3% more than the estimated index for 2008, and 5% growth was predicted for 2010 as the world economy stabilizes. In 2011, Armenia expected to receive 800,000 tourists, which is 13% better than the previous year. Many new hotels including a Hilton, InterContinental, and Kempinski are set to be built in the capital city, Yerevan.
Paragliding in Armenia
Over the last few years, paragliding has developed in Armenia. Armenia has favorable conditions both for independent and tandem flights. Due to the height of the Armenian highland (which is also known as the central part of the Caucasus Mountains), the country has various micro climates, which creates perfect circumstances for paragliding. The first paragliding flights were held by the members of “Small Aviation Club of Armenia” in 1996. Later, in 2008, The Armenian Paragliding Sport Federation was founded, and its members organize paragliding teaching courses nowadays.In Armenia, flying season is quite long (flights are mostly held from May until November). Tandem and free flights are mostly held on the territories of Atis, Aparan and nearby Lake Sevan. Depending on the weather conditions, the duration of the flight can last anywhere from 7–20 minutes, which mostly build upon the passenger’s desire.
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