Highlighting the economic importance of the tourism sector and the value of cross-border cooperation, U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills, Jr. joined members of the Turkish-Armenian Tour Operators Network (TATON) during a meeting in Yerevan on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.
TATON developed as a result of USAID’s “Bridges” project, an effort to develop economic activity on the cross-border region through tourism. The network’s membership includes the most active travel companies and tour operators in the region.
Armenian and Turkish tourism operators already offer cross-border tours. Turkish tour operators are part of an established tourism sector seeking to add extensions to traditional Turkish tour packages. Armenian operators seek to expand their offerings to include multi-country tours. TATON facilitates collaboration on such cross-border trips. Though TATON routinely operates through an online social network, occasional in-person gatherings allow tour operators from both sides to meet, share concerns, and formalize agreements on joint tours.
USAID has been working with the Armenian tourism sector since the early 2000s. Primarily, it has focused on improving service quality and building the capacity of Armenia’s tourism sector.
Prior to the creation of TATON, the “Bridges” project helped local partners to develop the Black Sea Silk Road Corridor through Greece, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia.