July 5, 2011 - 15:24 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, accompanied by Executive Director for Member Relations and Services Zoltan Somogyi, is in Armenia on an official visit for the first time.
To research tourism development opportunities in the South Caucasus, the UNWTO specialists will also visit neighboring Georgia.
Mr. Rifai believes that the region’s population realizes the privileges of open borders in the context of tourism development, with the possibility to travel from Armenia to Turkey, from Turkey to Azerbaijan. “Tourism industry may be used as a tool for solution of serious problems,” the Secretary General said, adding that he is well aware of problems Armenia has with its neighbors, as “we do not live on Mars and do not overestimate existing opportunities.”
Commenting on the international experience in this issue, Mr. Rifai referred to the example of Balkans, saying that, fortunately, now there is no need to pass round Serbia to get to Croatia. Besides, the UNWTO Secretary General being native Jordanian had personal experience of such conflict, when they could not cross the river Jordan to get to Israel.
Mr. Rifai will stay in Armenia till July 6. He already met with the country’s President, Prime Minister, visited a range of sightseeing, and meetings with Armenian tourism industry representatives are planned for the next two days.