YEREVAN—Earlier this year, the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation approached ONEArmenia about accelerating investment into HIKEArmenia to scale the program more quickly and to enhance its impact. In February, the two organizations signed an agreement that ultimately establishes full Hovnanian Foundation support for the creation of HIKEArmenia as a separate operating foundation in Armenia with the goal of developing the hiking infrastructure and resources throughout Armenia to world-class standards.
The Hovnanian Foundation, ONEArmenia, and local stakeholders on the ground already involved in hiking, adventure travel, and ecotourism in Armenia will work together to accomplish this goal with a strong commitment to promoting sustainable ecotourism as well as ensuring rural economic development in Armenia.
“I think adventure travel can be a huge economic driver in Armenia. Everyone talks about it, but very little has been done on a large scale; and what efforts we’ve seen are disconnected and piecemeal. I am hoping with our funding we can make HIKEArmenia just the beginning of our Foundation’s commitment to building the tourism industry in Armenia,” said Edele Hovnanian.
The initial phase of HIKEArmenia was incubated in Nov. 2016 and funded via a crowdfunding campaign supported by more than 200 people from ONEArmenia’s global community in 2016. That enabled the organization to create a hiking app focused on promoting the natural assets of Armenia as well as to scout and mark several hiking trails throughout the country.
“This project is an opportunity to improve the lives of local Armenians by bolstering tourism and thus their monthly income. It’s a solid representation of the power of collaboration between an engaged, global community and organizations that understand how to accelerate the economic interests of those living in the country,” said Patrick Sarkissian, Founder of ONEArmenia.
With Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation funding, HIKEArmenia’s priorities include designing a state-of-the art hiking resource center in downtown Yerevan, creating a one-stop-shop website for hiking and ecotourism, building on the pilot release of the mobile app, further developing and investing in quality trail design and necessary hiking infrastructure, and promoting Armenia as a hiking destination.