Tourism activities and appropriate itineraries suggested in the National Park and adjacent areas can be divided into two major types: specific and of general types. Specific /narrow professional/ types of tourism can be both classical tourism itineraries and research tours /expeditions among which are:
- The observation of wildlife, such as bird-watching or flora observation
- Geo-ecological, archeological, architectural, ethnographic and other tours
General interest tours are those combining itineraries for the observation of nature, adventure /sports and/other attractions. These tours can be carried out in vehicles, on foot by horse or on skies or a combination of all. We suggest various tours on foot around the lake Sevan, which include all interesting natural and cultural peculiarities of the territory. Based on the recourses described in the 2.3 chapter the national park and the idea of developing of health tourism on its territory are in the focus of attention. In all communities there is an important potential for the development of agro-tourism, which can be combined with other forms of tourism such as walking, horse and donkey riding, auto tour, cultural –historical tours and amateur fishing etc.
Concerning wildlife observation tours in Armenia, bird-watching and biological tourism are of a great interest .In addition to bird watching tours other zoological tours based on the observation of other forms of wildlife such as butterflies, larger insects and mammals could be organized. Though, insects are predominantly interesting for specialists. We may pay special attention to the tourists who are insect collection makers. Their aim can be scientific, amateurish or commercial, but these tourists are not qualified as eco-tourists and that’s why must be strictly controlled or merely prohibited in a framework of scientific expeditions. The observation of medium and large mammals is possible only by availability of special conditions. In Armenia it is possible to demonstrate the habitats of these animals, but it is almost impossible to watch them. For that reason is the organizing of observation tours of specific mammals unreal. The same should be told about reptiles and especially about the snakes. Bird-watching tours are very popular and take separate place in nature–oriented tourism. The interest of the Armenian population towards to bird-watching is yet on a primary stage. Mainly these visits are organized in the framework of some programs of several social entities. They pursue an educational goal and mostly involve scholars. Some territories of National Park are of interest for such visitors. Here must be possibly developed, organized and encouraged visits of local population involving not only scholars, but also adult people. As for abroad specialized groups the bird fauna of national park is of a big interest. The participants of these groups, being not ornithologists, however can be well informed about the bird fauna and pretentious to the guide’s qualification. For this reason the key player of the tour is the bird watching guide, under whose jurisdiction is to accurate bird’s location place regarding to current year and season and to guide the visitors. What about the exact location of birds, mostly for birds conservation purposes, this is not possible and not accepted rendering of such information materials in tourist guidelines and tour reports. As already mentioned, “Sevan” national park represents a big interest for bird-watching. The permanent attraction being the breeding Armenian Gull population found on Gull Island. Other lakeside area waterfowl are inclined to change sites. The following areas in and immediately around the park could be of interest for foreign birdwatchers.
*Lake-bay adjacent to Lchashen village;
*Small lake within Lichk reserve;
*Masrik river mouth;
*Areguni mountain range slopes.
In case of bird-watching tours it must be possibly developed, organized and encouraged not only the visits of local population, but also scholars and adult people. Most foreign participators of specialized groups are biologists. For non specialists there are organized special tours by several foreign organizations /China, Germany, for ex. Doctor Koch/.The choice of biological and bird watching itineraries, according to the season, is made by proficient guides. In general, the Sevan- Dilijan itineraries are of a permanent interest including the north-southern parts of “Sevan” peninsula and its hills. Several reserve areas of national park are partially attractive for tourism. Hopefully, the conservation of these areas with reserve zone regime disturbances will be improved in result of elaborating management plans. On the one hand it is evident, that only with this expectation we can work out tourism plans for these areas. On the other hand the question, how permissible is the tourism in the expected reserve regime conditions in target areas, will be answered only on the last stage of elaboration of management plan. This question can be not only the individual jurisdiction of tourism specialists, but also must be an object of discussion by a group of biologists. That’s why below presented are only first arguments and suggestions about some areas. Suggested general interest tours/itineraries are based on the Park’s recreation, buffer zone and natural and cultural attraction sites. Wildlife observation tours can be organized by vehicle /4×4/, on foot or on horseback or a combination of these transport forms depending on the site.
Those Mountain chains bordering the National Park reserve zones especially Geghama volcanic table, Azhdahak /3.597m/,Big /3.555m/ and Small/3.443/ Spitakasar tops, Armaghan mountain /2.829m/,Kartakary/3.392m/, Vardenis /3.521m/,and Selimi pass/2.410m/are all very attractive for highland tourism. The paths leading to the summits of these mountains from the lake Sevan communities are no less attractive.
All these are partially included into tours on foot or by off-road vehicles (Jeeping) suggested by tour operators. Practically we can use all roads from Sevan surrounding communities to mountainous pastures. Very often to rich the same target it is possible by other roadways. For example tour operators often suggest one road from the village of Tsagkashen in the lake Sevan basin to the top of the famous Azhdahak mountain chain. However there is another option from the village Lanjaghbyur, which is just as attractive. In result of field researches with the help of GPS is already accurately outlined some of offered tour roads, which is drawn a map by cartographical workgroup.
- “Stone Sea /Qare Tsov/chingils” in the vicinity of the villages of Chkalovka and Lchashen.
- Sarukhan village-Gri gorge.
- Along the old section of the highway /from the Akhtamar restaurant to the peninsular/.
- The route connecting Sevan and Dilijan National Parks.
It is suggested accurately to draw a map and to describe some more interesting mountainous roads especially the road to the no less famous rocky paintings of mountain Armaghan. Except famous and often visited historical and cultural monuments such as Sevanavank , Hayravank and cross-stones of medieval cemetery of Noratus in the national park and in its adjacent areas there are numerous monuments of various ages: fortress-settlement, villages, monastery complexes, churches, mausoleums and cemeteries etc., which are of a great interest. Besides that there are numerous geological monuments. It makes possible to involve in tourism itineraries more interesting cultural and natural monuments.
- The tourism and recreation related activities with national park can be stimulated only by a legal person on a contractual basis;
- The rights on the territory of national park are limited by a lease contract.
- Most of employees in recreation field are local inhabitants and at the given moment there is no collaboration program between local communities;
- Infrastructure is mainly seasonal. Only in the all year around working objects the recreation services have some demand. Among of them are “Harsnakar”,”Kaputachya Sevan”, ”Sevan 2”, “Motel”, and “Tufenkyan Avan Marak Tsapatax” hotel complexes to distinguish.
- Because of the business seasonal character the entities avoid expansive investments to provide their services in permanent buildings.
- There are permanent as well as temporary buildings, stalls and other structures among tourism and food objects.
- Methods of marketing are incomplete and have only oral character. Some hotels have their adds in different web sites, but not on their own initiative, e.g.“ Information of Armenia” web site.
- Most of objects avoid paying ecological taxes, which is considered to be the main income source for national park. As a result the national park loses the ability to undertake conservational measures, although in most cases these measures are undertaken by entities pursuing business development purpose.
- Due to the climate conditions, to the quality of services and to existing substructures in mentioned areas are prevailing Armenian tourists. The abroad tourists are a trivial part of the general stream of people, what significantly lower the possible volume of incomes. In this sphere there are many things to do not only by institutions of local government but also by businessmen.
- From the tourism aspect developed are the northern parts of national park and the northern zone of the lake. In Gavar, Martuni, Vardenis,and Cambarak there aren’t either permanent nor temporary buildings provided for tourists or they are available but don’t function. In practice all kinds of advanced substructures are absent. Techniqal capacities of in tourism sphere engaged entities in Sevan region are insufficient and the existing measures aren’t accessible for the vast majority of population.
- As a rule tourism recreation is limited to picnics. The presence of the lake Sevan covers this lack, but it hasn’t an organized character.
The peculiarities of dwellings: number of places of functioning dwellings of Sevan recreation zone fluctuates from 3-4 cottages till 350 places. Average overloading fluctuates between 100% on August and 30% on other months. The service average price per a person in a cottage is 4000 AMD and the price for a two-seater cottage is up to 10000AMD.The type of average visitors: 90% native tourists, about 10% in some places abroad tourists, 60-95% one-day visitors in different places.
The accessibility of services and the quality: suggested services (excursions, expeditions etc.).
Only some of them offer organized trips by car to the historical and cultural monuments and only Tsapatax resort house offers expeditions on foot/by horse. Although in the last period there are present significant capital investments in this area, the construction and reconstruction of tourism buildings according to advanced norms and requires proceed slowly and insufficient. According to the law of RoA on “Tourism and Activity” by government is determined since 2004 the qualification procedure of hotel objects, but this qualification procedure moves very slowly on the whole territory of Armenia. The harmony of natural and cultural environment with the buildings has a subjective assess. However it is to mention that the infrastructure included in “Sevan” national park territory is only particularly harmonized with natural environment. There are often to observe irregular buildings, artless houses, for example in some areas for recreation provided various colorful small campsites ,which are remnants of disaster zone and serve as public fast food objects, sometimes even as hotels. These small campsites are foreseen as temporary dwellings on construction sites. The prevailing part of campsites with their inner and external design and furnishing aren’t appropriate to the requirements of recreation. Till the resort “Motel” there are non finished multistoried, two-storied, public food and service buildings of Sevan tourism complex. For that reason the violated landscape of the whole territory with its excavations and heaps is like a non finished construction site. Fast all complex buildings are to be submerged: a part is 1904m low, other part is in wave influence zone (1908m low). For solution of the problem of subsequent utilization of semi constructed buildings should be made special complex and detailed researches. Except for tourism resorts and food objects it is to mention the state of recreation zone roads and routs. Especially the roadways of north-eastern part of the lake Sevan from Vardenis to Ardanish peninsula is in a poor state. There are numerous illegal, unregulated local asphalt roads leading to recreation zones. Many times is risen the question of significance of transport special stations on highway adjacent sections and on special platforms provided for that purpose. Unfortunately this question isn’t solved yet, what has an evident negative influence on the whole territory of recreation zone and on most active exploited parts such as town and Sevanavank territory.
Museum of National Park
Museum of National Park is in a good state, has proficient stuff and carefully protected rich show-collection, the presentation manner and structure of which should be changed according to advanced design methods, what will increase the importance, the role and the goals of national park. Especially it regards to representation form of flora and fauna, what should be not elementary (most of museum-pieces are nailed on the walls) and ought to be demonstrated according to the ecosystems. The museum is located in Sevan town and that is the reason it is non attractive for tourism. That’s why the most part of visitors are local inhabitants. Furthermore here aren’t any signboards confirming the existence of exhibition.
Although the tourists can freely move on the whole territory of national park and its buffer zone the regular pedestrian routs are absent, what prevents the organizing of recreation for the visitors. The absence of paths disturbs the development of ecotourism different forms, especially nature observation, organization of tours on foot or by horse etc.