Shopping tourism makes a country more noticeable and fosters its economic development. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to develop this type of tourism in Georgia.
Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired into the details of this sector and identified origin countries which supply many shopping tourists to Georgia.
According to the National Tourism Administration, the government has been working tirelessly in recent years to develop shopping tourism, as well as other tourism niches.
The National Tourism Administration asserts that today there are international-standard shopping malls in Georgia where tourists are able to buy desirable goods with no problems.
The success of Georgian designers and their recognition on international markets is of crucial importance for shopping tourism development, and this factor makes Georgia more attractive, the National Tourism Department said.
“Today, many prestigious foreign magazines emphasize Georgian fashion, and predict future success. In recent years, the country has hosted events such as Tbilisi Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The National Tourism Administration backs the development of this sector,” administration officials said.
Additionally, the National Tourism Administration has prepared a catalog of Tbilisi Entertainment facilities with relevant information about shopping malls and Georgian designers’ stores.
Annual introductory tours are arranged as part of Fashion Week for journalists from leading international publications such as Elle, Vogue and Conde Nast Traveler, and these journalists spread the news about fashion and travel in Georgia.
According to experts and tourism sector specialists, it will take five more years for the development of Georgia’s shopping tourism, because at this stage, various facilities and spaces are still being arranged.
Maia Sidamonidze, the former head of the National Tourism Administration, says that shopping is a key component for any tourist arriving in the country. Often, citizens of neighboring countries visit Georgia, Sidamonidze said.
“Besides revenue that the country generates from shopping tourism, and besides the promotion of private business development, sales markets are also developed. More international brands should enter the country,” Sidamonidze said.
As for the position of various tourism companies, some of them say that the shopping tourism niche has been already developed in the country and has huge potential, while others think that this sector still remains undeveloped.
Caucasus Travel founder Saba Kiknadze talked about shopping tourism development potential in Georgia. A portion of tourists arrive in the country for shopping, and a majority of them come from Iran, India, Arab countries and China, he said.
Nino Makhviladze, the director of Intercontinental Hotels, noted that tourists do not arrive in Georgia for shopping and they are more interested in the culture of Georgia.
According to Geostat, the National Statistics Service of Georgia, the share of tourists visiting Georgia for shopping in the first quarter of 2018 was 9.8% of the total.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and the USA are the main countries of origin for tourists interested in shopping. In the first quarter of 2018, the share of tourists from Armenia visiting the country to shop was 43.3%, Azerbaijan constituted 40.6%, Turkey made up 14.7% of the total, Russia was 1.0% and the USA was 0.3%.
Last year, 37.7% of tourists arrived for recreation entertainment, including about 700,000 tourists who arrived to shop and buy personal goods (9.5%). This category surpasses such groups as those visiting for professional or economic activities (8.2%) and medical treatments and therapy (2.7%).