THE PILLAR OF ARMENIA
It is hard to describe, how much I love Syunik. I always wait, when I will traverse the gates of Sisian and catch the endless roads of Syunik again. It is the “longest” marz of Armenia, as it is 145 kilometres from the North to the Araks river. One can see everything in Sisian-Goris-Kapan-Meghri highway: mountains, canyons, rivers and fields. There are months that you can see the 4 seasons on that road: the cold winter of Sisian, the spring fog of Goris, the freshness of Kapan and the summer hot of Meghri.
Being the South marz of Armenia Syunik is a real pillar for the country. The border with Iran is an exceptional opportunity for the marz to take the important roll of the development of Armenian economy. The sustainability and strategic development of the marz greatly depends on this border and interstate road. When we look at the map, the roll of Syunik is strengthening in the territorial sense too.
There is everything for tourists in Syunik: nature, history, geology, mountaineering, ecotourism, village tourism, extreme tourism, gastro tourism, religious tourism, cultural tourism. It is a real heaven for visitors of different interests and ages. From the point of view of nature, Syunik is the hilliest marz. The highest peak of Kaptajugh 3906 metres) and the lowest points (Canyon of Meghri 375 metres) difference is almost 3500 metres, more than in other marzes. The river Vorotan and canyon, the Shaki waterfall, the the Araks river and the field, Ishkanasar and Khustup peaks, the forests of Meghri give limitless opportunities for the development of active, mountaineering tourism.
Syunik is also full with under earth sweet, mineral thermal waters, which of them are Sisian-Urutyan, Lijk-Tashtunyan, Karashen-Khoznavaryan mineral sources. In case of smart usage of the hot waters next to Vorotan village, it can become one of the most famous places by founding sanatorium tourism in the marz. The best places for historical-cultural and religious tourism are the complex of Tatev, the great desert of Tatev, the Devil’s bridge, the cages of Khndzoresk and old Goris, the monument of Aghit, Vorotavank, Vorotnaberd, the church of Sisianavan, Vahanavank, the bridge of Melik Eagni, the fortress of David Bek. The iconographies of Ukhtasar and the stones of Zorats can become the driving force by attracting tens of thousands international guests.
Lately big and small touristic projects are given for commissioning, which are additional stimulus for attracting internal and external tourists. “TaTever” ropeway has been built in the scope of “Rebirth of Tatev” project. It has been recorded in the Guinness book as the world’s longest revisable ropeway, which is moving without stops. This year the road from Tatev to Shinuhayr has been reconstructed, which provides additional flow of tourists. The bridge of Khndzoresk has become the most photographed place in Armenia in the recent years. The holiday house “Suriki Dzor” near Goris is becoming a preferable place for tourists, and the village Khot on the road to Halidzor is the Armenian “Machu Picchun”, it is a real hidden treasure for tourists.
The availability and development of souvenirs production is a crucial part for tourism development. This can become the basis for dozens of small productions establishment, as well as employment for tens of thousands people. Although the challenges are numerous including the provision of high quality service. The founder of “Old Halidzor” says “it is not about to host tourists the way that he/she can feel at home, but about to serve literately what the nature, history and culture gives us”.
WHAT TO DO IN SISIAN
In the agricultural point of view gardening is coming as an additional direction to the traditional cattle breeding and cereal growing. This direction is developing in recent years. Global warming has reached here by bringing serious opportunities for apple, pear, palm and even apricot gardens. For the latter the season factor is very essential: when the harvest of apricot is finished in the whole state, in Sisian it can just begin. The gardens founded by Arsen Galstyan in front of Ishkanasar can be the best example of gardening. The foundation of gardens can be a serious stimulus for conserve and juice production, which are few enough in the territory. There are also perfect basis for fruit chips.
Next direction is dry fruit production. The first one in this field is “Shambi” dry fruit factory. Taking into account the presence of Alpine meadows, cattle breeding has great stimulus for developing not only in big corneous, but also in sheep breeding directions. The same can be told for fish breeding, for which there are enough resources. One just needs to use them and get results. Milk breeding enterprises, the famous of them is cheese factory of Sarakunk “Sisian Kat”, can add the sizes or to create new products. There is a need of new factories in Syunik. Besides technological solutions, the management systems need to be updated.
Next direction is greenhouse farming. Taking into basis the presence of labour force and foothill zones, one can surely say, that greenhouse farming will be one of the moving forces of the economy in this territory. In terms of natural resources, there is a huge potential for water bottling factories building and using. “Tatni” water factory is the only one yet, although several water bottling factories can be opened in a very short time, by taking into account mountain, source and sweet water existence. There is a great amount of different plants in the mountains, which can be served as tea material or herbs. The production of “Ritea” teas confirm this fact and has a good reputation in the market.
Stone extraction has always been one of the main directions for Syunik. Although there is a lot of work to do for adding supplemental worth to the production for more expensive selling. There are justified prerequisites for textile manufacturing, as there is similar experience in the territory. Specifically in Sisian, it can give employability to the city habitants.
THE CROSSROAD OF GORIS
It would be right to say that Goris is one of the most important crossroads of Armenia, the East of which is Artsakh, the South is Meghri, and the North is the rest of Armenia. This circumstance is the basis of Goris to be the first one at the forefront with the number of hotels and guesthouses in Armenia. Last year more than 60 hotels and guesthouses have been registered in here, and the process still continues. The founders of one of the first guest houses “Eghevnut” built new hotel called “Meghu” by this approving the fact that the number of visitors increases not only based on international tourists, but also on locals.
The economy of Goris is based on tourism. Goris is the exceptional territory in Armenia, where one can meet tourists crossing the crossroad even more than locals. As far as we have discussed this field, let us watch at it from a new perspective. The development of tourism can become a grave stimulus for development of adjacent fields. Specifically, a great amount of hotels and guesthouses can be costumers for other services. For instance, industrial laundries, internal and external cleaning services, food delivery, furniture making… These ones are only several fields, which have serious perquisites for development.
Generally, a number of fields have been founded in Goris representing small productions, which can work on tourism service directions with some changes. A very simple idea. Great amount of bakeries are working on the main roads, although they have some flaws with packaging. In case of Sisian, the production of natural teas can become one of the strategic directions. One of the succeed examples is “Mountain Tea”, which is exported to Germany.
REGIONAL CENTER KAPAN
Kapan is the most distant one from Yerevan from all the regional centers of Armenia at a distance of 320 kilometres. On the one hand, this limits the opportunities of the city, on the other hand, this is a good basis for the development of it. Kapan is a young and future-oriented city, the distance of which can be turned into opportunities. Being one of the important industrial centers, Kapan is trying to restore what it had. The manufactory of plastic processing “Plastshin” has been opened on May. The investments in establishing light industrial enterprises can be quite serious projects.
Taking into account the mild climate of the territory (in winter average is 0 degree, in summer 25 degree) in terms of high agriculture a great future is ahead. The reconstruction of Kapan airport will decrease the distance by opening new horizons for the development of the city.
Syunik is the pillar of Armenia, Meghri is the pillar for Syunik. I myself think that Meghri is the most important territory of Armenia in all sectors. Meghri has its unique “face”. It is associated with tasty fruits, the Araks river and the hot weather. The fig of Meghri, pomegranate and pineapple have become a real brand. Every type of expensive fruits are sold on behalf of Meghri. There is even no sense to talk about Araks: one should just see it.
There are three main directions for the development of Meghri. The first one is gardening, which is traditionally developed and continues to develop. New investors both local and international are coming Meghri to found new gardens in Meghri. Fresh fruit is the “face” of Meghri. The second one, as a consequence, is the processing direction. The factories of conserve, dry fruit production and other directions can process and create new product. The third direction is logistics. The free economic zone of Meghri is a vital opportunity to develop the interstate trade. There are intentions to develop refrigerator economy, as well as the development of collection, packaging and shipping centers of national importance.
WE SHOULD DEVELOP SYUNIK
There is no other way: either to develop Syunik or to support that process. The significance of it is priceless, and I have already mentioned why. Although economy is the basis of everything, the development of which will promote the employability of the population and the enhancement of the salaries. Surely, the mining is developed in the marz, the significant examples of which are copper-molybdenum combines of Agarak and Kajaryan, also “Chaarat Kapan” (previously “Dino Gold”), which creates a great amount of workplaces. From the other hand, every effort should be done to develop value adding directions.
The activity of different international organizations should be smartly used in the marz. The role of them is quite high for the development of the economy. The role of the state is to stimulate the improvement of infrastructure, the private sector will react quickly to those changes, and new investors will appear.