Bartlett courts Armenian tourists

Jamaica Gleaner - - AROUND JA WITH PAUL H. - Clau­dia Gard­ner Hos­pi­tal­ity Ja­maica Writer

TOURISM MIN­IS­TER Ed­mund Bartlett says his min­istry has en­gaged in a part­ner­ship with a ma­jor tour op­er­a­tor in the Euro­pean coun­try of Ar­me­nia to at­tract mem­bers of the Armenian di­as­pora to Ja­maica.

Bartlett was ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists fol­low­ing his ad­dress at a gas­tron­omy sem­i­nar held at the Hil­ton Rose Hall in Montego Bay last Wed­nes­day.

Bartlett, who was forced to spend two ex­tra days in Ar­me­nia re­cently be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Matthew’s pas­sage in the re­gion, said he used his time to con­nect with the largest tour op­er­a­tor in Ar­me­nia and one of the sig­nif­i­cant tour op­er­a­tors in Rus­sia, the Czech Repub­lic, and Is­tan­bul in Tur­key.

“Seven mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans are dis­persed around the world, two mil­lion of whom are in the United States and one mil­lion of whom are in Cal­i­for­nia it­self. They travel all over the Caribbean, but they don’t come to Ja­maica, for some rea­son. So now we were able to forge a part­ner­ship with this very im­por­tant tour op­er­a­tor,” he stated op­ti­misti­cally.

Bartlett re­vealed that com­ing out of the ini­tial con­tact was an in­vi­ta­tion for them to come to Ja­maica for a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion tour in De­cem­ber and also at­tend the Tourism Out­look Sem­i­nar.

Ar­me­nia is land­locked and is lo­cated in the South Cau­ca­sus, bor­dered on the north and east by Ge­or­gia and Azer­bai­jan, and on the south and west by Iran and Tur­key. The United States es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions with Ar­me­nia in 1992, fol­low­ing its in­de­pen­dence from the Soviet Union. Some pop­u­lar Armenian-Americans in­clude Cher, Kim Kar­dashian, and An­dré Agassi.

DI­AS­PORA ALL OVER AMER­ICA

Ac­cord­ing to a BBC ar­ti­cle pub­lished ear­lier this month ti­tled ‘Glen­dale Ar­me­ni­ans in shad­ows of the past’, there are cur­rently more than 200,000 Ar­me­ni­ans liv­ing in the greater Los An­ge­les met­ro­pol­i­tan area of the state of Cal­i­for­nia, and the city of Glen­dale there has a pop­u­la­tion “that is roughly 30 per cent Armenian”.

The ar­ti­cle says Ar­me­ni­ans first started ar­riv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia early in the 20th cen­tury as a di­rect re­sult of the un­rest in their home­land and “worked in the fer­tile agri­cul­tural val­ley” in that state. It said that some Armenian im­mi­grants set­tled in Glen­dale – and were later joined by friends and rel­a­tives – where they founded a church and en­gaged in eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties by open­ing shops and restau­rants that of­fered Armenian cui­sine.

“What be­gan as a trickle turned into a se­ries of waves – a re­sult of the war and eco­nomic dis­rup­tion in ar­eas the Ar­me­ni­ans had sub­se­quently set­tled. They fled the Ira­nian revo­lu­tion in the 1970s, the Lebanese Civil War in the 1980s, the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the Iraq War in the 2000s, and, in the past few years, the Syr­ian civil war,” the ar­ti­cle noted.

The World Bank’s most re­cent Eco­nomic Out­look notes, among other things, that Ar­me­nia’s econ­omy per­formed bet­ter than ex­pected in the first half of 2016, with “three per cent growth year to year, driven by in­creased ex­ports of agri-prod­ucts to Rus­sia”. It also said that “with the ex­pected re­cov­ery of the global econ­omy and bot­tom­ing out of Rus­sia’s re­ces­sion, Ar­me­nia’s growth is ex­pected to pick up over the medium term, reach­ing ap­prox­i­mately three per cent in 2016 and stay­ing at sim­i­larly mod­est lev­els for sev­eral years”.

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