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With all the speculation about a potential peace deal on Nagorno-Karabakh, the real savior of the disputed region might not be the Minsk Group, but tourism.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian berated Armenia’s travel agencies on July 8 for sending thousands of Armenian holiday-makers to Georgia and Turkey each summer.

At the meeting with representatives of over 20 local travel operators, Sarkisian said they should now pay much greater attention to resorts in Armenia and especially Karabakh.

A representative of Karabakh’s tourism development agency present at the meeting offered the travel agents financial incentives to bring more Armenian tourists to the disputed region.

He said the total cost of a five-day tour of Karabakh will now range from 70,000 drams ($193) to 110,000 drams per person.

However, not all of the travel agents were convinced.

Some of the agents sounded incredulous about the offer, saying that travel and accommodation costs are still very high in Karabakh. “Unless we see that [price package] with our own eyes we won’t send any tourists there,” said Ruben Grigorian of the Rumea travel agency.

But Sarkisian didn't give up. “So you should be the first tourists,” he said, before deciding that a group of travel agents will leave for Karabakh next week to see the infrastructure and tariffs with their own eyes.

-- Armenian Service/Luke Allnutt

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