Across Armenia, the region around Stepanavan is known for its alpine climate, pristine air and water, tasty dairy products and magnificent sights and natural beauties. Every year, thousands of tourists from other regions of Armenia and increasingly from other parts of the world flock to the region in search of recreation.
Much of the local tourism industry is made up of small and micro businesses. ECLOF actively supports these entrepreneurs with loans and financial advice. ECLOF micro borrowers cater to a variety of preferences tourists may have: whether it be renting a standalone house, staying with a local family, or sleeping in small wooden huts in the middle of the forest.
The latter was Vahe’s idea when he built, with help by friends and family and a loan from ECLOF, this remarkable little camp. Tourists sleep in tiny wooden huts in the middle of the forest near Kurtan village. When they climb up a bit, they can picknick with a view across the spectacular gorges of Dzoraget Canyon. Vahe offers his guests basic and environmentally friendly amenities like a sun-heated shower, solar energy to charge their phone, and an outdoor kitchen. He uses internet platforms and social media to advertise his offering. And adventurous guests have come from as far as Canada. (Photo: Vahe)
Tourists who like it cozier and independent, rent a holiday hut from Mher in the village of Lori Berd. With a loan from ECLOF, Mher built the house that he now rents out mainly to visitors from the country’s capital of Yerevan. The business complements the income Mher already has from a used car business. (Photo: Mher)
Other tourists may prefer staying with a local family, being served meals freshly made by the host and getting to know local culture first hand. They can book a whole floor in the family house of Versenik, a (lady) farmer from Lori Berd village. Versenik’s husband works in Russia much of the year, and their son has even relocated to Russia. Both send remittances home, but their value has decreased lately as the Russian ruble devaluated sharply. Versenik takes care of her 86-year old mother and works the small family plot growing potatoes and wheat. With an ECLOF loan, Versenik and her husband reconstructed and renovated the free floor of their home in order to rent it out to visitors. Versenik cooks for her guests and keeps everything tidy, and her daughter helps with marketing on social media. (Photo: Versenik)
Each in their own way, these clients of ECLOF make a valuable contribution to the tourism sector in their villages–and create a sustainable income for their families.