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Tourism Sector Greets 2016 With a Positive Outlook

The National Tourism Administration positively appraises the 2015 tourism season. The administration head Giorgi Chogovadze assures the 2015 report will register record figures.

The administration will continue campaigns for attracting foreign tourists in 2016. The next year Georgia will host the first international wine conference that is organized bye the world tourism organization. The event is expected to draw a new wave of international tourists to Georgia.

Giorgi Chogovadze head of The national tourism administration

“I positively appraise the national tourism administration’s performance in 2015, based on official statistics and reports. Everybody remembers at the beginning of 2015 the country recorded a slowdown in inflow of foreign tourists, because of certain reasons, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as the national currency devaluation in the target tourism countries, from where a major part of international visitors arrive in Georgia. Our objective was to improve these indicators. Having found the first negative signals in the statistics, we analyzed the slowdown reasons and outlined the problem solution measures. Shortly, we organized a crisis management board and determined the necessity of diversifying the market amid the existing realities. Finally, we developed an action plan.

Under the plan, we made focus on the international activities that would grow an inflow of foreign tourists from new markets and improve the situation in the old markets.

Throughout the year, we have carried out many operations for attracting foreign tourists to Georgia. For example, as part of the summer season campaign, we carried out active campaigns in nine target markets. Georgia’s image-maker commercials were also broadcast by the CNN and EuroNews channels. Moreover, throughout the year we have hold many meetings with invited reporters from various countries. We have invited about 400 media reporters, who have prepared TV spots, programs, documentaries, articles and blogs on Georgia. All these efforts have naturally upgraded Georgia’s tourism potential abroad.

We have conducted intense marketing campaigns for autumn and winter seasons. As part of this campaign, we have spent about 11 million GEL on creating internet, television, radio, print advertising products for the target markets, as well as on broadcasting winter image-maker commercials in the cuts of the CNN and EuroNews channels. We have participated in 26 international tourism exhibitions.

Thanks to these efforts, in the January to November period Georgia attracted as many tourists as throughout the 2014 year. Therefore, we are sure the December report will grow the 2015 total performance to record figures.

Besides marketing campaigns, I would like to overview other important projects and events that the national tourism administration has conducted. Namely, in 2015, with the World Bank (WB) support, the national tourism administration developed a strategy.

In 2015 we implemented small infrastructural projects, namely, we have installed tourism outlet signs in 14 settlements and cities, bilateral lighting systems in 17 cities and settlements. We have also introduced innovations for extreme tourism followers: bicycle tracks were arranged in Gudauri and Bakuriani and this decision has made these ski resorts more attractive for even summer period.

We have conducted trainings in eight regions for improving the service quality. As a result, we have trained 1100 employees in the following directions: service skills, service +, operation of agro tourism facilities, Alpine guide’s training courses, base English courses, hotel business and service skills, urgent medical assistance, guide’s skills, taxation and financial accountancy, disabled service skills, operation of food outlets.

In 2015, we launched a large-scale campaign for the internal tourism stimulation– Know Georgia. We have prepared video commercials, organized seven press tours in various regions. Media reports have prepared TV spots and articles on Georgia’s tourism potential. We believe all these endeavors have inspired many citizens in Georgia to travel across the homeland.

– Do you find the current indicators satisfactory in terms of tourist inflows? Do you think the quantity of visitors is adequate to your efforts?

– In the January to November period, the inflow of foreign tourists rose by 7% and this is a quite good indicator. This growth fully fits our target indicator that calls for increasing the annual inflows of foreign tourists to 11 million persons by 2025. The national tourism administration permanently works on penetrating new target markets. As a result, we have considerably increased the inflow of foreign tourists year on year.

– What specific measures will you carry out in 2016 to improve the service quality at tourism facilities and attract new tourists?

– A special management operates at the national tourism administration that makes focus on this direction. This department organizes various trainings throughout the year. We invite qualified trainers from abroad. In general, competition seriously promotes improving the quality. We try to draw the interest of investors and to further develop this direction.

– How the strengthened US Dollar has influenced the domestic tourism and foreign visitors inflows?

The currency depreciation badly affects domestic tourists, while stimulates or makes no effect for foreign tourists.

– Do you have early report on the tourism sector’s revenues in 2015? Are the sector’s revenues growing or declining?

-The tourism sector’s total revenues in January to June period exceeded 766 million USD, up 3% compared to the same period of 2014.

The January to October period has recorded a 25% upturn in transactions made by foreign payment cards. Similar payments made up 1.2 billion GEL (+243 million GEL).

– Was the internal tourism development program successful? What results has this program brought and will the tourism administration continue and expand this program?

– To stimulate the internal tourism, we have inaugurated a new campaign called as Know Georgia. The project acquired large scales and deserved positive evaluations. Many media reporters are participating in the project implementation and they have prepared many TV spots and newspaper articles about the tourism potential in various regions.

As part of this press tours, we have visited Samegrelo, Imereti, Ajara, Racha, Khevsureti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kakheti.

All of us seems to be aware of the rich tourism potential of our country, but for some reasons we cannot travel across our homeland.

These TV sports are additional efforts to stimulate and inspire our citizens to trip to various regions of Georgia together with our families.

The strengthened US Dollar exchange rate has brought negative results to the domestic tourism. Nevertheless, I believe the Know Georgia is a successful project, because after these TV spots the travel companies planned specific tours in various directions and the general interest increased.

We will definitely continue the project in 2016, because there are still many things to be seen.

– What are your plans in 2016 and what main challenges do you expect in 2016?

– In 2016, we will continue our main projects, active marketing campaigns, developing small infrastructural projects. We plan to construct new information centers. It is also important that in September 2016 Georgia will host the first international wine conference.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) organizes the event. It should be noted similar event will be held for the first time and it will be held in Georgia.

The conference will be held in Kakheti on September 7-9. I and the UNWTO head Taleb Rifai divulged the decision at a joint news conference in London as part of the international exhibition. More than 250 foreign guests and ministers from 20 countries will attend the conference.         We do our best to ensure Georgia’s world recognition as a winemaking homeland.

Moreover, in 2016 Georgia will host the 5th meeting of the UNWTO Technical Advisory Board  and the 16th meeting of Committee on Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account.

In January, we will also open a convention bureau. Thus, the coming year is expected to be very busy and active. We plan to implement many projects and events for developing internal and international tourism sectors.

“The year of 2015 was much more fruitful for the tourism sector compared to 2014”