Around 40 Ecotourist Projects Implemented in Georgia's Protected Areas Last Year
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture is actively supporting the development of ecotourism in Georgia's protected areas, with the cooperation of the Georgian government. Between 2012 and 2021, new ecotourism infrastructure, destinations, and services were introduced and developed. In Georgia, over 40 ecotourism projects were implemented in protected areas in 2021.
Since 2012, the number of visitors has increased by 4 times, and the record reached to 1,200,000 visitors in 2019. In 2021, the Agency of Protected Areas resumed visitor reception on May 26. In 5 months, the tourist record of 12 months of 2019 was fulfilled by almost 50%, hosting about 600,000 visitors.
“The establishment and development of protected areas, the development of ecotourism, and the increase in the number of visitors have led to the active involvement of people living adjacent in ecotourism activities, who are now providing various ecotourism services to visitors, which significantly increases the economic income of locals. As of 2021, about 1,200 people are employed adjacent to protected areas; there are about 400 hotels, and 200 food facilities. In order to develop ecotourism in protected areas and improve the economic situation of the local population, the relevant infrastructure will be arranged, such as hiking trails, and visitor centers. In addition to this new ecotourist, services will be developed.- stated the Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture - Otar Shamugia.
Along with the protection of biodiversity, the development of ecotourism infrastructure is in progress with the support of the government and international partners. In recent years, new ecotourism facilities have been opened: Martvili Canyon, Okatse Canyon, Okatse Waterfall, Tetra Cave, Navenakhevi Cave, Satsurblia Cave; 12 visitor centers have been built, 8 ecotourism attractions have been developed, 39 ecotourism trails have been arranged. As of 2021, there are 82 hiking trails (some of them integrated with vehicle roads) in protected areas and 5 boating routes. The total length of the trails is about 1,800 km.