March 31, 2008

YEREVAN, March 31. /ARKA/. Foreign tourists did not change their
minds to visit Armenia because of the March 1 disturbances. Armenian
Development Agency Marketing Director Suzanna Azoyan told reporters

>From February 20 to March 1, Armenia's opposition political forces
led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan were holding rallies in
Liberty Square in Yerevan protesting against the results of February
19 presidential elections attributing victory to Prime Minister Serge
Sargssyan. As a result of public unrest and clashes between the rally
participants and the police, eight people were killed. On March 1,
RA President Robert Kocharyan issued a decree on imposing a twenty-day
state of emergency in the capital.

"No tourist group, with the exception of a group from Germany, put
off their tour to Armenia despite the state of emergency imposed in
the country," Azoyan said.

Only a group from Germany consisting of 700-800 members put off the
tour to Yerevan scheduled for March 23.

The German tour agency accounted for the decision by the fact that the
situation in Armenia requires additional insurance for the tourists
which was impossible because they had already paid for the tour.

Azoyan said tourists from other countries, including Japan, arrived
in Armenia in the reported period.

RA Trade and Economic Development Ministry's Tourism Department Chief
Mekhak Apresyan stated that any political instability, both in the
country and in the region, immediately tells upon the volumes of
tourism inflow.

However, he said at the moment he can provide no statistical data
of influence of March 1events on the number of tourists visiting
Armenia. The data will be calculated based on the quarterly analysis

"Despite the current situation, Armenia continues working with private
and international organizations and pursuing its marketing policy
of shaping an image of a stable and secure country favourable for
investments," Apresyan said.

He said even the bird flue epidemics did not hamper tourism development
in the world. Quite the contrary, 6.5% tourism growth instead of
usual 4.5% was recorded in the world.

"This shows that neither bird flu nor any other cataclysm is able to
make people give up their travel plans," Apresyan said.

According to the RA National Statistical Service, the number of
tourists visiting Armenia in 2007 increased 33.5% and totalled 510,300
against 382,200 recorded in 2006. In the reported period the number of
Armenians travelling abroad totalled 467,000 which is a 38.7% growth.

Armenian government is planning to increase during the coming 5-7
years the number of tourists travelling to Armenia up to one million
yearly. A foreign tourist spends on average $1,300-$1,400 during a
week's stay in Yerevan.