Many people can’t imagine their lives without traveling, but COVID -19 has prompted uncertainty even in domestic tourism. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), this year the international tourism will fall by 20-30%. 

For example, “Euronews” reports that “Hotel Metropole” in Brussels for the first time since 1985, when they had a huge amount of arrivals from all over the world, has reduced the workforce of about 129 positions and now is on the edge of closing down. 

Spanish Minister of Labour and Social Economy Yolanda Diaz has estimated that one of the world’s leading destinations for tourism could not return to activity until the end of the year. The tourism industry makes up 13-14% of the economy in Spain and Italy –the most affected countries from coronavirus. 

The tourism industry in Armenia

Mekhak Apresyan -Chairman of Armenian Federation of Tourism, has mentioned in his interview to Armenpress (source: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012864/), that the tourism industry will recover only after April 2021. 

Even after loosening the lockdown measures, we are not expecting our compatriots to rest abroad. Yet it is a good chance to organize domestic tourism and get a chance to explore the homeland.  

Hayk Kostandyan offers domestic tour packages and has launched a new “500 km in Armenia” project. Even though they are fully involved in the preparation process of the project, they predict the start will be no sooner than next year. 

“We have been expecting tourists since April, but everything was turned upside down. Anyway, this is something we can handle. Guides and drivers are the most affected ones. I hope we will not face a situation to be afraid of international tourists. My target markets are Lebanon and Russia”-said Hayk Kostandyan. 

Despite the crisis, Hayk is still optimistic and is planning camping in Batumi and Sevan in August. 

Our compatriots living abroad 

When we are supposed to stay at home to be safe, some of our compatriots were on the coronavirus frontline in other countries for different reasons. For example, some students are studying abroad. 

Arevik Mikayelyan has been to Germany along with her 3 compatriots for about a semester. She was considering an option to come back, but she could also be infected on the way back.   

“Everything seemed to be great in the beginning – the European city welcomed me so warmly that I felt as if in a fairy tale. We could breathe easily and life was as usual. But I couldn’t even think of such a scenario. Having a map and a dream destination is not enough to be ready for all the “gifts” from life. As soon as European countries were hit by the virus, all the borders were locked one after another. The empty streets, shops, and restaurants were symbolizing the life on pause. Meanwhile, no one was panicking, as they had high social intelligence and trust in the medical system”-said Arevik. 

She thinks that traveling will be replaced over by virtual tours as it was in the case of Germany. 

Ani Harytyunyan is another student studying in Hungary. She is also indicating no panic during the lockdown. 

“All shops, malls are closed, except supermarkets. The shopping time is designated for the seniors-from 9-12. The rest can shop after that. So we are allowed to go out only in case of an emergency or to buy food. Public transport is available in case of medical masks. Police are guarding everywhere to prevent people from mass gatherings”-said Ani.  

But even if we defeat the virus, we should avoid traveling for a while. 

As a psychologist Naira Harutyunan states, it can be very stressful to plan a trip within a year, but not being able to realize it. 

“People can cope with the changes happening in their lives. Stress can affect you both physically and emotionally, but not for a long time, as it requires a lot of energy. We can adapt to a stressful situation and regain our sense of control after a while. And people will find ways out from the situation- they will have picnics with small groups, climb the mountains and take part in hiking in Armenia”- finished the psychologist.  

Written by Margarita Harutyunyan 

Translated by Anna Avagyan