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Georgia – A Secret Gem of Europe, Highly Attractive For Travelers

Georgia – A Secret Gem of Europe, Highly Attractive For Travelers

Ski Resorts Lack for Cloakrooms, Rivers and Gorges Look like Trash Dumps

Hot tourism season will open in Georgia soon. Several days ago Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also overviewed this issue and noted that the tourism sector’s ratio in GDP had increased, according to the 2015 indicators. Anyway, the field contains higher potential for development, the Prime Minister added.  “Within 5 months of this year a record number of tourists and travelers was recorded. In May 2016, the inflow of international visitors rose by 14.95%, while the ratio of foreign tourists, who stay 24 hours and more in Georgia, increased by 24.3%.

“This is a very important positive indicator. Considerable upturn is  recorded from our traditional partner countries, i.e. the neighboring countries from where we host tourists. Considerable growth was also recorded from the EU countries. These indicators are very positive. The inflow of international tourists also increased by 15.3% in the past 5 months and the tourism sector revenues throughout 2015 made up 1.94 billion USD. The year on year growth marked 8.3%, i.e. up 149 million USD compared to the same period of 2015. The tourism sector ratio in GDP has also increased by 16.2% and made up nearly 6.8%. Nevertheless, the tourism sector has much more potential for growth”, Giorgi Kvirikashvili noted.

What are expectations of tourism companies and the field specialists this year?

Ia Tabagari, the head of the association of tour operators, noted that in 2016, contrary to the previous year, no essential changes have taken part in the tourism infrastructure. However, there is no hazard the tourist inflow will decline. Both ski resorts and sea resorts have registered a great number of booking transactions.

New hotels opened in Batumi and its surroundings (starting from Sarpi through Kobuleti) and we expect significant growth in tourist inflows from the neighboring countries, she said.

Ski resorts emerge as the most sought-after destinations, including in Tush-Pshav-Khevsureti, Zemo Svaneti, Ajara Highland. Tourists show least interest in the Racha-Lechkhumi Region, Tabagari said.

Certain problems exist in the adventure tourism direction because of lack of footpath, marking, professional, certified ski resort guides. Even tour operators stress this problem, Tabagari noted.

It is positive tendency that the interest of tourists in Georgia grows. On the other hand, the problem deepens because the increased inflow of tourists aggravates the environment pollution issues and the resorts are littered more, Tabagari said.

“Wastes are not withdrawn. A major part of tourists prefers to visit  the Glacier. According to the 2015 indicators, several thousands of tourists visited the Glacier. The lack of cloakrooms and litter bins creates serious problems. Tourists also stress this negative aspect. Several years ago this problem was not notable, because the inflow of tourists was lower, while today this problem has deepened, because the number of visitors has increased. This is the responsibility of municipalities rather, because the cleaning services cannot satisfy high standards.  Rivers and gorges have turned into trash dumps”, Tabagari noted.

Travel Companies

A major part of questioned tourism companies noted that in 2016 tourists show growing interest in Georgia’s resorts. This year the demand is growing for sea resorts, especially from Dubai, Teona Chkhutiashvili, representative of Nonstop Travel tourism company noted and added that her travel company has recently entered the market and cannot submit comparative indicators for the 2015 season.

We expect satisfactory results this year. The demand is growing from Russia and even from Europe, Lika Gugushvili, the head of BeneTour travel company, noted.

Before the tourism season commencement, the World Health Organization (WHO) spread information that the virus of Zika may attack Europe with high risk zones at the Black Sea coastline, namely, in Georgia and Russia and Madeira Iseland, i.e. the locations where Zika-transmitting mosquitoes are widespread, Nino Makhviladze, the head of Intercontinental tourism company noted.

The WTO has urged the countries to prevent proliferation of mosquitoes. Therefore, this information could badly affect the tourism season in 2016, because tourists always avoid similar hazardous information and expectations, Makhviladze said and added that at this stage there are no grounds to think that foreign tourists have changed their minds regarding visits to Georgia.

Region Meets Tourism Season with Innovations

Ajara

Innovations will be introduced in terms of tourism products and services, the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Ajara Government, noted. The Ajara Tourism Department inaugurated the summer tourism season officially on May 28.

This year the hotel visitors will enjoy services of hotels and restaurants recommended by the Ajara Tourism Department. The quality certificate “Recommended by the Tourism Department” provides guarantees for safety, hygiene and high-standard services.

Moreover, the region guests will be able to enjoy new tourism products in Ajara highland, such as Mirveti biking route, Machakhela historical-culture route, Khikhani adventure route and Keda-Shuakhevi gastronomic route that enable eco-tourism followers to discover new tourism products in Ajara. Travel packages on these routes may be bought at renovated tourism-information centers that also provide comprehensive information on tours.

The tourism and resorts department also says that the region offers innovations in terms of opening hotel complexes in the Region. In Summer period several new low-cost and high-class hotels will launch operation in Batumi. As a result, more than 700 new hotel suites will appear in Batumi (about 1400 accommodation places).

Batumi International Airport is meeting the new tourism season with new flights appointed. This summer 5 new airlines will perform charter and regular flights to Batumi from Israel, Kazakhstan and United Arab Emirates.

The Ajara Tourism and Resorts Department expects upturn in tourist inflows from 10 target countries as a result of active PR and marketing campaigns.

Sighnaghi

The tourism season in Sighnaghi will last from May through October.

The tourism season was inaugurated several days ago in the Region and everything proceeds successfully, the Sighnaghi governor David Janikashvili noted. Unlike the previous year, the inflow of tourists has nearly doubled, especially from Russia and Ukraine. If this process continues irreversibly, the Sighnaghi District will earn considerable revenues in this season, Janikashvili noted.

Infrastructural works have been already completed in the city. Street lighting systems have been replaced, the city clock has been repaired and put into exploitation after a 6-year break, new square has been arranged, pavements were rehabilitated, and so on. Arrangement of a new tourist footpath will be completed in several days. The footpath connect the city with the Sighnaghi Stronghold. The footpath was not functioned since 2007, Janikashvili said.

Currently, 37 guesthouses operate in the city and this suffice to host growing inflow of tourists, the Sighnaghi Governor noted.

Representatives of Sighnaghi-based hotels talk about growing inflow of tourists and increased positive expectations.

The management of Hotel Kabadoni, owned by businessman Lasha Papashvili, says that in 2016, unlike the previous year, the number of Russian and Azerbaijani tourists has considerably increased.

The management of Hotel Solomon 1805 owned by Temur Chkonia also talks about extreme rise in tourist inflows in 2016. The hotel launched operation six years ago and this year it has registered a record number of tourists. The tourist inflows grow at the expense of Russian tourists, basically, the hotel management noted.

“The number of foreign tourists, especially Russian tourists has doubled, contrary to the previous years”, the Solomoni 1805 management noted.