By Emil Danielyan
Armenia’s immigration authority will grant on Thursday its 1,000th entry visa approved through the Internet as part of a new scheme launched last year to facilitate travel to the country.
The Foreign Ministry publicized on Wednesday the name of a U.S. citizen who completed the list of the first one thousand foreigners whose online applications for an Armenian visa have been processed and approved electronically. It described the expected arrival of Sossy Mazmanian, a resident of the U.S. state of Connecticut, as a symbolic milestone in popularizing what is still an unusual immigration procedure.
Mazmanian, who has ethnic Armenian roots, will arrive in Yerevan with her family for the first time in her life. They will be greeted at the airport by government officials and will have an audience with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, himself a former Diaspora Armenian.
Armenia became the second country in the world to introduce electronic visas last October in the hope of attracting more tourists and other foreign visitors. Successful applicants can now travel to Armenia with approval notifications received through the Internet and have visas stamped on their passports at the point of their entry into the country.
A Foreign Ministry statement said the new optional procedure “greatly fosters the development of tourism” in Armenia. But getting an Armenian visa was relatively easy even before its introduction, which is apparently the reason why the bulk of visitors still apply for one either at Armenian consulates abroad or at Yerevan airport.
According to immigration officials, about 80,000 foreign nationals have entered Armenia this year.