Sargsyan’s family is far from the only entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic.
"In the first quarter of this year, there were 311,000 domestic tourists, which is 14.6 percent less than in the same period of the last year. We predicted at least 10 percent growth for this year, but the epidemic prevented it,” notes Mekhak Apresyan, the president of the Armenian Tourism Federation.
In addition, the country lost an estimated 350 million dollars from international visitors in the first half of the year.
"The total income from tourism would have amounted to about 20 percent of budget revenue. All that money should have been spent in different branches of the economy. But at the moment, the tourism sector has lost all income,” Apresyan says.
While the government has provided preferential loans for some businesses due to the pandemic—including freeing tourism-related businesses from profit tax for a part of the year, Apresyan says more is needed, especially for the tourism industry.
"The biggest thing needed for the sector is missing: allowing businesses to use the soft loan to repay their current credit obligations,” he says, adding that the best option would be to allow businesses to stop paying interest for several months.
The federation is in talks with the government and the economy ministry and is hopeful tourism-related businesses will be offered some reprieve from interest payments in the near future.
In the meantime, the Sargsyan family decided to branch out and build a factory to earn money from their orchard while they waited out the pandemic.