The corner stone of science tourism in Armenia has been already laid. The initiative became more active in the past year and achieved rather impressive results. Mediamax talked with the author of the initiative and President of Armenian Astronomical Society Areg Mickaelian to summarize the efforts and reveal the possibilities that science tourism opens for Armenia. By the way, Areg Mikayelyan was elected Director of Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory on April 12. Photo: Armenian Astronomical Society
Although Armenia has large scientific potential, unique science organizations in particular (Byurakan Observatory, Alikhanian National Laboratory, Yerevan Physics Institute), not all of them have exhibition items, especially for tourists. Some agencies actually can realize corresponding efforts and bring the devices and materials to a display-worthy condition. Other organizations implement theoretical researches, which seemingly have nothing to exhibit. However, I believe that even in that case it’s possible to prepare e-presentations and find an attractive way to introduce the wonders of the given science in lecture halls.
We studied the “science map” of Armenia, visited many ancient sites of scientific nature, science-related museums, and science institutions.
Photo: Armenian Astronomical Society
I have yet to hear about a science tour package being offered in a tour operator’s program, but we created all necessary preconditions for that. On our webpage Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory Scientific Tourism Center, we offer concrete tour packages that tour agencies and independent tour operators or tourists can use.
We collected and organized information about all relevant centers: ancient scientific sites (Zorats Karer, Petroglyphs, Dvin), medieval education centers (Gladzor, Tatev, Sanahin), reserves (Erebuni, Goshavank), museums (of Science and Technology, Space, Genocide, the Geological Museum, House-Museum of Victor Hambardzumyan), science institutions (Byurakan Observatory, institutes of the Armenian National Academy of Science, CANDLE Synchrotron Research Institute). We made a map, and as most of scientific centers are in Yerevan, one side of the map features Armenia, and the other Yerevan.
Photo: Armenian Astronomical Society
Armenian Institute of Tourism opened a science tourism chair that deals with developing corresponding lectures and students’ term papers and theses, as well as internship, science tourism programs in cooperation with tour agencies, and the basics of science tourism.
The example of Byurakan Observatory
We prepared a detailed offer for Byurakan Observatory. The tour packages are comprised of the following components: day-time and evening short visits, including a tour to the 2.6m telescope and observations with small telescopes in night time; long visits, which include popular lectures or films, and lunch; and visits for 2 and more days with additional tours to the observatory and Byurakan area.
Science tourism sites guide
We built a rather large guide on the material from our visits and studies. It served as a base for both the map and the webpage. The guide contains information about science tourism in general, ancient and modern Armenian science, scientific tourism sites, events we organized, etc. Moreover, there’s a Facebook page for science tourism, which spreads information and hosts discussions very actively.
Photo: Mergelyan Club
We intended to create a tour package “Armenia, the land of science”, which could be released in the form of CD, TV program, and book.
School students as important target
We consider school students’ visits to science agencies and museums to be science tourism. It’s also a sector of domestic tourism. It would be great if Armenian Ministry of Education and Science viewed it as a part of education program. In that case, pupils would have a more realistic approach to choosing science as occupation, because they’d have seen with their own eyes the scientists, their work, equipment and experiments. They would know what it’s like to be a part of the scientific community.