Armenia and COVID-19

COVID-19 crept into Armenia slowly and gradually however at the moment the total number of infected people in Armenia is 19157 (as of the morning of 19.06.20). At the same time, the vast majority of infected people carry the virus asymptomatically and recover easily.

State of emergency was declared in Armenia on March 16, a strict quarantine followed a week later that lasted till April 14. Since April 14 people were allowed to get out of the house. However, the state of emergency itself was first extended until May 15 then till June 13 and now till July 13, which retains the right of the government to introduce any restrictions at any time.

At the same time since May 15, a wide range of areas of activity has been opened:

– the service sector has resumed: all restaurants and cafes are open as well as beauty salons, sports centres, large shopping centres;

– Public transport again started operating with a strict requirement to wear masks and gloves and a fine for violation of about $ 20;

– open access to the territory of cultural and historical monuments in the open air;

– kindergartens and other institutions of preschool education are open;- All hotels and guest houses are allowed to work;

– construction works have resumed.

At the same time, a strict condition is set for obeying a number of rules of personal hygiene with corresponding fines for violation.

Months in quarantine were really hard for Armenian people both in socio-economic terms due to the lack of earnings and in terms of restriction of freedom of movement. The Government of Armenia provided financial support to the population in the amount of minimum wage. They also provided financial incentives to all companies and their owners that did not fire their employees in this difficult economic situation.

As for tourism industry – it surely suffered the most. Many companies in Armenia bankrupted, some closed (we can say they underwent natural selection to a certain extent), while the rest switched to remote mode. Our company switched to remote work from home at full capacity. Despite all the economic difficulties the management of our company retained all the employees with full paid salary. We regularly gather online with the whole team to discuss common issues, tasks, realize goals set earlier, and even just for mutual communication.

In this period of time we took:

– things to do that remained in the background because of a large workload of requests and projects;

– for replenishment and adjustment of our databases on the services provided;

– for a deeper study of the country’s capabilities in order to develop new products, and we already have a number of cool ideas that we can’t wait to implement;

– for a more thorough representation and acquaintance of our partners with all the secret corners and secrets of the country;

– for the development of tour packages and projects for the fall-winter 2020-2021;

– for the exchange of experience, as well as the cross-learning of new languages within our team. Since, in general, in our company employees speak 6 foreign languages we had space to self-develop during long quarantine;

– and finally for the development and collaboration with the government in socio-economic projects aimed at reviving and improving the tourism industry of the country.

We maintain daily contact with our partners from all over the world we are glad to state that Armenia accepts flights from Belarus, and from May 15 from Russia, and already from June we plan charter flights to Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus. The Government of Armenia took up the issue of opening borders on July 15. We look forward to the decision of the government on the final opening of borders and we monitor the processes in real-time, notifying partners about the latest significant changes.

Remote work in all this deserves special attention. Now many people think that working from home will become a new “normal” reality, a new convenient and cost-effective method of doing business. However, our strong belief is that for tourism, this format of work is completely unacceptable. In addition to the need for a tete-a-tete service as the basis for a trustworthy relationship (which is what tourism is based on), there is an important aspect of teamwork on a project or on developing a new product. No online communication from home can replace the effect of face-to-face interpersonal communication, emotional brainstorming that throws up the coolest ideas as well as a heated debate in which truth is born.

We eagerly look forward to the moment when we all beat COVID-19, return to the office to our beloved work with numerous inquiries dropping onto the mail every second; when the borders open and we will again host our beloved tourists and partners in our country, and we ourselves will go to visit our partners who have already become friends!

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