Laying the ground for innovative tourism in Armenia’s regions

tourism hackathon

A hackathon aimed at generating innovative ideas for tourism was launched on 7 April at the Vanadzor Technology Centre (VTC) in Armenia’s Lori Region, supported by the EU-funded SMEDA project for support to SME development in Armenia, in partnership with VTC and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF).

Around 50 young and enthusiastic teams gathered at the VTC to compete around innovative ideas that could be turned into models and embedded into regional tourism development.  

The opening ceremony was attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski,who stressed the importance of mobilising the energy and creativity of young people to boost Armenia’s economy.  

He thanked the competing teams and encouraged them: “Don’t be afraid to lose as life is about failures but also successes!” The Ambassador added the EU was ready to support tourism in Armenia, given the strong growth potential of the sector.

The Governor of Lori Marz Artur Nalbandyan said the event was of great importance for Lori and that they planned to hold it annually from now on. He said the regional administration would support the winning ideas to emerge from the hackathon and present them to the government to bring them to life.

Zarmine Zeituntsian, Chairperson of the State Committee for Tourism said the idea of bringing IT and innovation into the tourism sector was being discussed for a long time and that the hackathon is the start of it. “In the world of digitisation and smart gadgets, the country will be responsive and direct resources to develop related applications for tourists with advanced, compatible and user-friendly methods. Thus, the innovative ideas expected from the hackathon are highly appreciated,” she said.

The team leader of the ‘Support to SME Development in Armenia’ (SMEDA) project, Eva Naeher, said SMEDA was delighted to become part of the hackathon and support Vanadzor Technology Centre (VTC) and Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) to make it happen. She believes creative and inspiring ideas could set the ground to develop regional tourism. “We expect never-seen-before ideas that could lift up the tourism sector in Lori, the teams should be brave with their ideas and should not be disappointed if they fail, but rather become stronger, improve their ideas and push them further,” she advised the participants.

The best ideas pitched to the jury will be selected and awarded with prizes by the SMEDA project, EIF and Lori Regional Administration. 

The EU4Business SMEDA project supports the improvement of the business and investment climate for SMEs in Armenia. It aims to strengthen the private sector, support SME coordination mechanisms, and foster links between research institutions and the private sector, as well as providing access to finance for SMEs.