By Anush Dashtents
More than 800 foreigners, most of them tourists, have visited Nagorno-Karabakh this year, Karabakh officials in Yerevan said on Monday.
The permanent representation of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Armenia has issued 831 entry visas to foreign nationals as of September 15. Their number exceeded 1000 last year.
"Most of the visa applicants are tourists," said the head of its consular department, Lidia Gevorgian. "The number of applications is usually higher from May through the end of October."
Gevorgian told RFE/RL that the official figure does not include "hundreds" of foreign officials, businesspeople, aid workers and dignitaries that regularly travel to the mountainous region. She said the foreign ministry in Stepanakert allows them to enter Karabakh without a visa.
Also exempted from visas are citizens of Armenia and other CIS countries as well as people who hold permanent residence permits in Armenia and members of those Diaspora organizations that operate in Armenia and Karabakh. According to Gevorgian, the visitors mainly come from the United States, Europe and even Japan. She said many of them are Diaspora Armenians.