Capacity Building in Tourism
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Dynamic Cross-Departmental Collaboration

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) Manoogian Simone College of Business & Economics (CBE) Graduate Certificate in Hotel and Hospitality Management program (GCHHM) has initiated a cross-departmental collaboration with AUA Open Education (OE) that is producing measurable results. Through this collaboration, GCHHM is offering regional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the unique opportunity to acquire specialized knowledge and skills in the new Tourism Industry Capacity Building program taught by hotel and hospitality industry professionals and graduates of GCHHM. The development of course materials for sustained use by AUA Open Education and the initial delivery of courses was realized within the framework of the GCHHM capstone project, with Program Director Zarmine Zeitounsian leading the course.

The newly established Lori and Shirak destination management organizations have joined forces with AUA in spreading the word about the new Tourism Industry Capacity Building program, mobilizing local businesses, and assisting with the organization of the training.

The goal of the program is to provide participants with an opportunity to learn about the intricacies of the hospitality business from specialists who competently combine their work experience in the industry with the academic knowledge they have acquired at GCHHM to educate and develop SMEs in the regions. This year, the team had targeted Shirak and Lori. The program covered courses in marketing management, digital marketing, operations management, customer service, tour guiding/storytelling, and working with tour operators.

In addition to sharing their knowledge in a classroom setting, GCHHM students provided substantial support to AUA Open Education in Syunik, Lori, Tavush, and Shirak marzes working with local hotels to build their capacity, including coaching them in the preparation of business plans. The aim was to equip the participating business owners with the necessary academic knowledge to help them better understand concepts and issues of operation and be prepared to pitch to investors and/or develop grant applications.

“Both human and institutional capacity building as well as regional outreach are among the priorities of AUA Open Education. Our goal is to respond to the local needs and provide quality education opportunities to both the general public and institutions working in different fields in the regions of Armenia and Artsakh,” noted Anoush Yedigaryan, director of AUA Open Education.

Program director Zarmine Zeitountsian remarked, “We think that community-based development is the anchor of balanced regional tourism development. Our GCHHM program advocates this idea throughout the academic program and encourages students to think about sustainability issues across all courses.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.