Life as a Solimar Intern in Armenia

Photo by Hayk Melkonyan, My Armenia

Last week, the My Armenia program kicked off a seven week-long tour guide training in the three regions of Armenia where we are currently working; Syunik, Lori, and Vayots Dzor. Each week, current and potential tour guides of each region will get training on different topics, starting off with history classes last week. At the end of the seven weeks, all guides will also be given a hands-on practical training on how to work with tourists and how to guide each tour that My Armenia is developing.

I joined the My Armenia team to the Syunik region last week. Together with Hayk Melkonyan, our training expert and photographer, we geo-tracked most of the tours that are being developed in this region. Hayk guided us and took a lot of photos during our trip, while I wrote down all the stops of each tour and the information that would be given to tourists. In general, this work is a lot of fun and often I can’t believe that I am working as I am feeling like a tourist myself!

However, after the tour ends, reality kicks in and we have to develop the scripts of each touristic experience. The scripts include all information of the tours; where do we start/end, what is being said at what stop, how long will we stay at each stop, and how long does it take to walk/drive from one stop to another. To write the content, I am not only relying on the information given to me by Hayk and the owner of the experience, but My Armenia has also invested in an ethnographic research of each region. The information in these reports are very detailed and descriptive, and are a good representative of the rich cultural heritage of each region in Armenia. Having this information definitely makes my work much easier.

Writing the script has to be done in such a way that it can be used by the tour guides so that they can give these tours themselves. It is quite challenging at times, considering I want to ensure that the Armenian cultural heritage is at the heart of each tour, showing its value to tourists. It is also rewarding, realizing that the product you are developing will support the Armenian tourism sector as a whole in the end. The support from Solimar on this end is great, and the experience and expertise that they share with me has taught me a lot about what it takes to work in the field of tourism development.

Of course, my work is not done yet as we don’t only have to do this work for the Syunik region, but for Lori and Vayots Dzor as well. This means we will be busy the coming weeks with field trips to each region, exploring all the touristic experiences, geo-tracking, taking photos, and developing scripts. I can’t complain, life as a Solimar intern in Armenia is everything but dull!

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Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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