EXPO-2017. Armenian tourism products instead of 'Future Energy'
YEREVAN, September 13. /ARKA/. The International Specialized Exhibition EXPO-2017 devoted to alternative energy sources, hosted by Kazakh capital Astana, was closed on September 10. Some 115 countries, including Armenia, as well as 22 international organizations, attended the exhibition that ran for two months, attracting a total of 3.9 million visitors from June 10 to September 9.
Every day, the EXPO-2017 attracted 40-50 thousand people. The most visited was the Kazakh pavilion "Nur Alem" with 1 million 300 thousand visitors. As part of this large-scale event, the capital of Kazakhstan welcomed also the heads of 53 states and governments. In general, EXPO-2017 was designed to further enhance the international image of Kazakhstan.
It was the most ambitious project in the history of independent Kazakhstan. According to Ahmetzhan Yesimov, the head of the national company "Astana Expo-2017", at the time of opening the exhibition it cost about 400 billion tenge (more than $1.3 billion).
This huge spending for understandable reasons caused some discontent in the Kazakh society. Questions concerning where such huge sums went to were raised by the country's leadership, resulting in the arrests of some officials involved in the organization of the exhibition. The sharp drop in oil prices, which led to a reduction in budget revenues, had given rise to discussions in the society about the feasibility of such an expensive public relations event.
However, this public discourse did not affect the attitude of the local population to the guests and participants of the Expo. According to the absolute majority of Kazakh and international experts, the country's prestige clearly was worth such costs.
Many participants of Expo-2017, especially former Soviet republics , instead of showing their own achievements in the energy sector, preferred to present the tourist attractions of their countries. Thus, Azerbaijan showcased its achievements in the oil and gas sector, which can hardly be considered the energy of the future, while Georgia touted its wines.
As for Armenia, its pavilion was the smallest and most modest of the three South Caucasian countries. It is obvious that Armenia can not compete with such countries as Germany, whose pavilion was really amazing. In order to get into it , one had to stand in line for at least one hour. But the smart and energy-efficient home technology, which Germany showcased, is well developed in Armenia as well, and more recently the first plant for the production of solar batteries opened in the country. However, instead of demonstrating such innovative solutions, Armenia made the focus on tourism.
Only one Armenian company, Locator, presented its products at the Expo. This company specializes in automatic control systems, telemetry and telemechanics. The company presented systems, which can contribute to energy savings, correct distribution of electricity in large enterprises and cities. The company's software currently controls all the drinking water supply in Armenia, the ambulance and other services.
A few more Armenian companies were represented at the Expo by booklets and promotional materials, which made the atmosphere in Armenian pavilion very depressing. According to Mher Badalyan, the first secretary of the Armenian Embassy in Kazakhstan, interest in the Armenian pavilion was very high.
"The Armenian pavilion presented its innovations in the field of renewable energy, in particular, projects in the field of solar energy, wind power, as well as several new projects in the field of computational technologies, actively used in the energy sector," he told the ARKA news agency.
However, as noted Badalyan, the main interest among the Kazakh visitors of the Armenian pavilion was caused by the tourist potential of Armenia. "This, of course, is primarily due to the opening on May 31 of the first direct flight between Yerevan and Astana," the first secretary of the embassy stressed. -0-