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YEREVAN, JANUARY 4, ARMENPRESS: At its last session in 2004 the Armenian government approved a special state program for tourism development in 2005, pledging to promote Armenia as an attractive tourist destination. Deputy trade and development minister Ara Petrosian, who is supervising tourism development projects, told reporters that the main goal of the new program is to aggressively promote and advertise the country in international tourism markets.

Petrosian put the number of foreign citizens, who visited the country in the past year to around 260,000, a significant rise in comparison with 206,000 in 2003.

Around 60 percent of foreign tourists visiting Armenia are Diaspora Armenians, including also those who left it in the recent decade and now visiting it as foreigners.

The main obstacle to bringing more foreign tourists to Armenia, according to the deputy minister is the insufficient development of tourism infrastructure. Another obstacle is that many Westerns look upon the South Caucasian region as a hotbed of instability.

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