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Gudauri Winter resort
Photo/ Giorgi Danelia

Tourism Season Peak and Problems

Business sector confirms  tourists inflow to ski resorts has increased thanks to new ski tracks and lower prices compared to Europe. However, ski resorts record many problems too, representatives of hotels noted.

Bakuriani

Managers of Piramida, a Bakuriani-based guesthouse, state that tourists inflow considerably increased at the beginning of 2017, but now the number of visitors has declined again. Georgian citizens are less solvent to spend holidays at ski resorts, while foreign tourists do not visit because of current infrastructural problems.  «Problems with road infrastructure still exists. Ski tracks have been arranged and the development process was suspended with that. There is no other infrastructure. There are problems with roads, food outlets», the hotel administration says.

Ana Girkelidze, manager for Bakuriani-based Villa Park hotel, says that  current workload is identical to the same period of 2016. At this stage, hotels’ workload constitute 60-65%, she said.  «In the New Year period the hotel was loaded by 100%, but now New Year holidays have ended and hotel suites are getting empty. The season gets a boost in February again», Girkelidze said.

In the New Year period a major part of tourists were foreign citizens, while now 70% of visitors are Georgian citizens, she said.

It should be noted that at the peak of winter tourism season, about a week ago, water supply was suspended in Bakuriani resort. Vacationers were writing in the social network that  water was supplied to Bakuriani under schedule and a part of holidaymakers, including foreign tourists, had left the resort.

«In Bakuriani foreign tourists, who have arrived for skiing by Wizzair, left the resort ahead of schedule because of absence of elementary conditions», Facebook users were writing.

According to vacationers, United Water Supply Company refers to heavy climate conditions and frozen headwork facility, but this is a unconvincing argument, because 25-30 degree frost is an ordinary event in Bakuriani and the company was to meet similar situations prepared.

Bakuriani Governor Gocha Gobronidze noted that   headwork facility had partly frozen because of strong frost and this fact has caused emergency situation. At the same time, currently water supply restrictions last only 2 hours and the board keeps communication with United Water Supply Company, Gobronidze noted.

“It is true that there is strong frost in Bakuriani every time, but at this stage we had special situation that was aggravated by snowstorm and the company representatives could not reach the destination. During this period only one woman contacted me and told me that foreign tourists were staying at her hotel and she was interested when water supply would be restored. Today we do not have emergency situation”, Gobronidze added.

As to infrastructure, everything is implemented under schedule in the region, including road construction works, he said.

Gudauri

Transport problems remain unresolved in Gudauri on this season too, Levan Karichashvili, owner of Trusso guesthouse, noted. It is necessary to arrange a bus service in Gudauri so as tourists could travel days and nights without obstacles.

Karichashvili was talking about necessity of resolving this problem before the season commencement in October 2016.

“We have been long talking with the local government about these issues.  They do not reject our initiatives, but seemingly they cannot resolve the problem. Moreover, service staff faces difficulties with transportation. If we employ local residents, we should also provide all conditions so as they could arrive in Gudauri and work there without problems”, Karichashvili noted.

We hope the municipality will resolve the problem in 2018, he added.

Karichashvili also appraised the ongoing resort season and noted that despite  deficiency of transport and food outlets, tourists inflow had grown compared to 2016. A major part of tourists come from neighboring countries, mainly from Russian Federation, he noted.

Outpatient medical center operates at the resort for 2 years, where first medical aid is provided for patients, if necessary, he said.

Marina Raminashvili, director of Shele guesthouse, also talks about invaluable resort infrastructure and transport problems. Much money is circulated in resort, but nothing is made in reality.

“Ski tracks are constructed, but all other infrastructure remains undeveloped. There are problems with water supply. Several days ago something burnt down and Gudauri was left without water and electricity. We have our own reserves, but other guesthouses face real problems. There are transportation problems too. Not every tourist arrives here   with a vehicle. They have dug roads and abandoned them and now snow melts and everything has turned into mud. The whole territory of Gudauri has been dug up. Something horrific happens. Foreign tourists also stress this. Everybody is bothered”, Raminashvili noted. Despite the mentioned problems, this year tourists inflow has increased by 20-30%, especially from Russia, she said.

Tourists number increased because of prices, Raminashvili said. “Russian tourists frequently note that our prices are far lower. Moreover, they are also interested in our tracks”, Raminashvili noted.

Price of a standard two-bed suite at the hotel is 160-180 GEL.

We remind you that in 2010, when the Government decided to make accents on developing ski resort centers and determined tourism sector development as a key priority of economy, Mikheil Saakashvili was saying: “We will promote everybody. We will ensure larger and faster construction process. We will ensure maximally liberal regime and everything will be in order, because I want to build not new Soviet-era resorts, but new Davos resorts and so on”.

But specialists explain that the process started chaotically and much more time is required for real development of ski resorts and arranging infrastructure. In July 2016 Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also stressed this moment.

“Development of Bakuriani in terms of land tenure has been finished, in practice.  Regretfully, over the past years the development process proceeded in chaotic way. We plan to implement important projects, as one of the key directions of the 4-clause government plan – space arrangement of Georgia and infrastructural modernization. To avoid chaotic development in this direction, it is necessary to create reasonable development grounds”, the Prime Minister noted.

To be precise, in July it was announced that Bakuriani land tenure general plan would be renewed on basis of Didi Mitarbi settlement, which comprises much resort potential. All these aspects create important preconditions for arranging attractive settlements for tourism and space-territorial arrangement.

Visitors frequently complain about absence of entertainment opportunities. Regarding this issue Bakuriani governor Gocha Gobronidze said: “This entirely depends on private sector”. Local government provides overall support to private sector to resolve similar problems and to more develop infrastructure in the region, he noted.