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Bartlett courts Armenian tourists

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.


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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