IDeA has transformed the Tatev region, making it the leading cultural and spiritual destination in the region and creating an unforgettable experience for tourists.
Back in 2008, we launched the Tatev Revival Program to demonstrate a powerful combination of traditional philanthropy in our project to restore the medieval Tatev Monastery, impact investment to build the Wings of Tatev aerial tramway and Tatevatun restaurant, as well as social investment to develop local communities.
Restoration of the 9th-century Tatev Мonastery – one of the prominent religious, cultural and enlightenment centers of medieval Armenia, is a key element of the Tatev Revival Program. Apart from the restoration works and development of infrastructure around the Monastery, great importance is given to reestablishing its educational legacy and reviving the monastic community at Tatev. Leading specialists and independent expert organizations and institutions have been conducting scientific research alongside the restoration work, in accordance with international standards.
While the restoration gradually proceeds, IDeA is extending the Tatev Revival Program to a wider scale. The extended program, Tatev Southern Touristic Hub, aspires to transform Tatev from a day-trip single destination to a major touristic hub where people can spend 2-3 days to discover the entirety of southern Armenia (Goris, Sisian, Kapan, Meghri, Vayots Dzor). Together with further restoration of the Monastery, it targets large-scale development of tourist infrastructure, revival of the abandoned medieval villages, and the creation of Tatev National Park.
The Program will have a transformational effect not only on Tatev, but on the whole southern region of Armenia, multiplying the tourist flow, creating jobs and new businesses, developing physical infrastructure and building the capacity of the local community.
Tatev is an important natural, historic and cultural landmark of Armenia and one which had remained largely unknown to tourists until 2010 when IDeA Foundation launched the Wings of Tatev aerial tramway as an anchor project of its Tatev Revival Program. The tramway made Tatev easily accessible for tourists and locals by transforming the journey to the landmark from an almost 1-hour ride along a precarious serpentine road into a wonderful 12 minute “flight” offering a view of the unique scenery of the Vorotan gorge.
The Wings of Tatev aerial tramway has entered the Guinness book of records as the longest reversible aerial tramway in the world (5 752m). Another record was set by its rapid construction, taking just 10 months to complete despite the site’s challenging geological conditions and climate.
From October 2010 to December 2017, the Wings of Tatev tramway transported more than 640 000 passengers. The highest number of passenger traffic was set in 2017, when more than 135 000 guests took the aerial trip – a 40% increase over the previous year’s tally. Furthermore, since 2016, just 5 years since its launch, the tramway has already made an operating profit, with the revenue going towards the restoration of Tatev Monastery.
Supported by the great results in its operational performance, Wings of Tatev is a key social impact contributor to the local community. Apart from 50 permanent quality jobs at the Wings of Tatev tramway (all employees are locals from Tatev and Goris communities), there are now more than 20 operating bed & breakfast/homestays, Tatevatun restaurant and smaller cafes serving traditional cuisine, individuals serving as guides and drivers, and many other small businesses and entrepreneurs. IDeA provided new business owners with legal and business consulting as well as training in sales and marketing.
The vibrancy that has returned to Tatev can be seen throughout the year in community and local events. The Sheep Shearing Festival in 2014 gathered over 3,000 participants; in 2015 this number grew to 4,000. The creation of the Tatev Monastery Children’s Choir has engaged dozens of local youth in performances throughout Armenia. The upgrading of children’s playgrounds, reconstruction and improvement of local schools, and the preservation of land and forestation are all initiatives of the Tatev Revival project that have changed the region and it’s potential forever.
Private donations, private-sector investments, and government contributions are all part of the revitalization of Tatev, which stands as testimony to the magnitude of what can be created when these forces work together.