23-year-old Arman Gabriyelyan, a resident of the town of Ijevan in the Tavush marz (province) of Armenia, is attempting to develop virtual tourism in his native region.
Arman hopes to organise virtual flights for tourists and other guests over the Tavush Mountains and local attractions, in the village of Yenokavan, and this innovative business idea has already sparked genuine interest. Arman is trying to implement his idea through the ‘EU4Youth: Employability and Stability in Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine’ project.
"Most tourists want to see the natural beauty of Tavush. We can offer them an alternative extreme service that can fill the gap," says Arman. "People can wear special glasses and see footage that a drone has shot, making it a virtual flight."
According to Arman, tourism in Armenia is developing dynamically, and new ideas are in great demand in the industry.
"I have always thought about starting my own business, and since I was interested in extreme tourism and innovative technologies, I had this idea. I wanted to create something innovative and interesting, different from everything else," says Arman, enthusiastically.
"This is not just my idea, I came up with it with a friend. We studied the field for about a year and figured out how much money might be needed to implement the project, but since there was no funding, we had to put it off all the time," he said.
Then Arman learned about the ‘EU4Youth: Employability and Stability in Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine’ project.
"During the introductory interview when applying for an entrepreneurship course, I presented the idea and they immediately liked it. Some of them were concerned that it could not be realised, but I insisted, and work began to move forward," says Arman.
Arman received funding for the project last autumn and purchased the equipment using startup funds grant after successfully completing a three-month long entrepreneurship training course, where he learned how to write a business plan. Arman presented his project to the project jury and became one of the five applicants who received €4000 grant to implement his idea.
The project’s implementation was hindered by the COVID-19 crisis, due to which tourism levels noticeably decreased and hotels and attractions were left empty. This is a temporary phenomenon and Arman is already planning how to start his business after the pandemic is over.
The ‘EU4Youth: Employability and Stability’ project is implemented in Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine. The grant manager is charity foundation ‘SOS Children's Villages’ Armenia with its partner on ‘Entrepreneurship’ component the Business Support Centre (BSC).
Anahit Avetisyan, Project Coordinator, says that the main beneficiaries of the project are young people from vulnerable group categories.
"We have registered young people aged from 15 to 35 years to participate in the project. The project targets unemployed, vulnerable young people who grew up under the tutelage of the ‘SOS Children's Villages’ foundation, in special institutions, or who were raised by single parent families. They learn life skills as part of the project," explains Anahit.
After 3-4 months of the ‘Live skills’ training course, entrepreneurial young people take part in seminars with the Business Support Centre, where they learn about business management skills.
Arman Gabriyelyan notes that he intends to further expand his idea and implement it at other Armenian sights. "When there is a goal and a dream, all barriers and bumps can be overcome on the way to its realisation,” says Arman.
Author: Roza Hovhannisyan