December 4: The Bridges team met with over 30 Armenian tour operators to discuss project opportunities, challenges and ideas. AMAP President and Chief of Party Richard Ney kicked off the event to present Bridges.

EkP Chairman Oğuz Demir added his comments, encouragement and hope for the success of the project. Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern joined the lively discussion to offer his support and thoughts on cross-border, regional economic development.

During all round table meetings and discussions, the idea of creating a regional network of tour operators was welcomed. It is believed that a strong TATON––Turkish-Armenian Tour Operators’ Network––will contribute to regional tourism growth. In turn, this will contribute to increased economic activity.

At all roundtables, tour operators welcomed the idea of Discovery & Information Tours for tour operators, photojournalists, and travel writers. Tour operators, when better acquainted with the possibilities in the cross-border region, know they will be better-prepared to provide superior service to tourists. Photojournalists and travel writers from around the world who visit the region will write about their experiences, sharing their journey with their readers & followers. There already is interest from well-known writers, photojournalists and bloggers. As a result of these special tours, the Armenia-Turkey cross-border region will be highlighted, intriguing those in search of new, exciting and exotic adventures. The more people who visit this region will mean more tourists, and improved economies for the peoples along this leg of the ancient and fabled Silk Road.