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Maryna Chayka Co-Founder/CEO of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards

National Tourism Awards – Competition Aiming To Develop Tourism Sector

Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards is the Annual Awards Ceremony, which is held in Georgia for the field of tourism and hospitality since 2015. The main mission of the project is to encourage tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and promote the awareness of the high-achieving tourism business and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide.

Awards Ceremony is an opportunity to bring together national and local authorities, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies, wine companies and more. It is a kind of “Oscar” for Georgian tourism and hospitality industry and the reason to celebrate Georgian heritage, culture, traditions and modern achievements.

Interview with Maryna Chayka Co-Founder/CEO of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards.

– Tell us about National Tourism Awards; how it started and who initiated the project?

Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards is the Annual Awards Ceremony, which is held in Georgia for the field of tourism and hospitality since 2015. We came with our project to Georgia on April 2015 and the first what we did – presented it to the Government of Georgia. I had a chance to present the project to Mr. Dimitry Kumsishvili personally (that time Mr. Kumsishvili was a Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia) and since that times the Award is supported by the Ministry of Economy and GNTA is a co-organizer of the project 3d year already.

The main mission of our project is to encourage tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and also to promote the awareness of the high-achieving tourism businesses and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide.

– What are the consequences of the past two awards? How did it change the market?

We are a little team and have been preparing for the first Award Ceremony for several months and the preparation process was a really hard work, also it was not easy to convince different companies to take part into this event. Some representatives of companies were skeptical from the beginning, but after the two awarding ceremony they are enthusiastic, happy and have totally changed their mind and are looking forward to taking part in the next ceremony. The Award project first of all it is a kind of motivation for all market players to develop and improve themselves. After the first two Ceremonies we received a lot of positive feedbacks and thankful letters from the participants (not winners or finalists only) that we took such initiative to ourselves and organized this really open and transparent competition for Georgian tourism & hospitality market players. Based on our global aim – to promote Georgia as the tourism destination – the Award project has quite wide advertising campaign worldwide within which we are telling and opening Georgia to the world more and more. And if we can reach someone to visit Georgia, they will be back here for sure again and again. And our participants should understand and work hard for this.

– How would you asses Georgia’s tourism sector, what are the main challenges and opportunities for Georgia?

Tourism and hospitality is one of the main developing sectors in Georgia. We believe that our project is very important from a global point of view. We see great potential for further development of this industry in the country – very promising, with a deep history, and most importantly with untouched nature to the end. There are many places that have yet to be discovered, improved, developed and promoted at the global level. As a result, the influx of foreign visitors will reach a record number. In Georgia, there are all conditions for the development of many spheres, including the sphere of services. And you know, a lot of work should be done to improve the service sector in Georgia. Hospitality is deeply rooted in Georgia. The guest is the first person for any resident of this country, as they themselves say. And everyone who has ever visited Georgia felt this on himself. Nevertheless, there are global standards of service. Thus, they should be implemented in Georgia, but necessarily combined with unique Georgian hospitality. By combining international standards and deep-seated hospitality of Georgia, we will come to something truly unique.

– National Tourism Awards is getting bigger and bigger every year, how do you plan to raise awareness about it? How other people will be encouraged to take part in the development in the tourism sector in the country with this award?

Independence and impeccable reputation are the core values of the Award. All processes are being truly according the judges decisions, so that it is the real arena for true competitiveness and award ceremony is excellent possibility for each participant to demonstrate their service and capabilities.

From another side – the Award Project is not only the glamor Ceremony, it is a business platform for our partners and participants.

In addition, the list of Media Partners of the Welcome to Georgia! Award’s project coverage not only Georgian media, but also foreign, touristic and travel magazines, logbooks in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan. And during the whole year, we are integrating project’s finalist and winners in our marketing campaigns.

– Will this year’s awards be different from previous events? What are your plans?

We are keeping doing our best to develop and improve the project every year as the Award is annual, and it needs to continue to motivate all players in the tourism and hospitality market to continue developing themselves and Georgia tourism in general. This year the process of nominees assessment was new, nominees were assessed only by an independent Jury Expert Board which consists most of all local experts and also internationals once. Jury Expert Board was separated according to categories depending on the kind of their main professional activities. And as every year, an Independent Auditor of the Award BDO Georgia calculates the number of points awarded by the Jury Expert Board to each nominee and determines the finalists and the winner in each nomination.

Award project by itself every year is developing and moving to another level. For our team it is big challenge, responsible and trust to hold Award Ceremony third time. So, for the Third Official Ceremony of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards we chose one of the landmark venue with immense national and cultural value for Georgia and will take place in December 6th 2017 at Rustaveli Theatre.

In advance, I can say that Third Award Ceremony will be full of surprise and one of the unforgettable day for our guests.