The Armenian government has announced the launch of two public beaches at a mountain lake popular among local holidaymakers.
People traveling to the Sevan, a rare beach resort in landlocked Armenia, are now offered areas at the lakeside where they can swim or have a picnic without having to pay an entry fee or being additionally charged for most of public amenities.
The move comes after the government pledge to reduce the growing commercialization of rest at Lake Sevan that makes it unaffordable for most citizens struggling to find other beach options during hot Armenian summers.
Ashot Avalian, an Environment Ministry official in charge of the coordination of public beaches, said at a press conference in Yerevan on Friday that in choosing the areas for the beaches they were guided by a number of criteria, including their convenience in terms of proximity to roads and the railway, their being spacious enough and their being free from liabilities, such as registration with the cadastre or the presence of notarized legal contracts.
Meanwhile, at least one entrepreneur owning a commercial beach at Lake Sevan has protested the kind of approach.
The founder of the Flamingo beach sent an open letter to the prime minister, calling the government’s decision on the establishment of public beaches illegal and demanding that it be revoked.
The Sevan National Park state-run non-commercial organization dismissed the claim, saying that the issues raised by the beach owner “under the guise of environmental concerns” were groundless and that beaches, as the state property, should primarily serve the public interest.
The Environment Ministry representative suggested that the businessman take his complaint to court.
He stressed that by law even outside public beaches no one can charge money from people who want, for instance, to put up a tent or have a swim in the lake.
“They can charge citizens only for concrete services,” Avalian explained.