YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The number of foreign tourists visiting Armenia rose by more than 24 percent in the first half of this year, the Armenian government said on Friday.
In an extensive report on its one-year activities, the government put their total number at 622,381.
Tourists in the country were up by about 6 percent last year, according to separate government data. It also shows that they have grown by an average of 9 percent annually from 2012 to 2016.
The government sought to facilitate growth of the domestic tourism industry by liberalizing in 2013 Armenia’s civil aviation sector. The average cost of air travel to and from the country has fallen since then, even if some local tour operators believe that it is still not sufficiently low.
Also, Armenian authorities unilaterally scrapped visas for citizens of the European Union member states and the United States in 2012 and 2014, respectively. An agreement on visa-free travel between Armenia and Iran came into effect in August 2016. The Islamic Republic is a major source of tourism income for Armenia.
Yerevan also lifted visa restrictions for citizens of Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in this year. In another effort to boost the influx of tourists, it allowed Russian nationals in March to visit Armenia with Russian domestic passports.