Tourism
Posted: 1 month ago

Hotel Business and Agribusiness - 2020’s Top Priorities for the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region

Hospitality and agribusiness development were determined to be 2020’s top priority fields for the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, together with infrastructure development, Deputy Governor David Partsvania noted. 

The Destinations Management Organization (DMO) was established to actively develop the tourism sector in the region. The National Tourism Administration actively participates in the process, and the developmental strategy is being prepared with the support of USAID, he added. 

“In reality, there was no long-term development concept. In several days, we will introduce our strategy that places an emphasis on popularizing the region’s positive aspects and elements. It is our priority to  maintain and popularize the existing opportunities, the authentic nature of Megrelian and Svanetian culture. Furthermore, The Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti State Governor’s administration plans to place focus on attracting medium and high-income tourists. 

At this stage, Booking.com registers 619 hotels in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region. A total of 337 hotels operate in Mestia. It is important for us to improve the hotel management experience, and USAID provides overall assistance in this regard. The hotel industry’s development under the Enterprise Georgia program is also very important. 

For instance, an ethnographic village operates in Sisatura, and people see this example of success. The interest in the tourism business is growing. As exemplified by Zugdidi, our opportunity is that we have the option to rehabilitate the botanical garden, Niko’s Palace, the Dadianis’ Summer Palace. We have a lot  of caves and canyons, as well as ski and sea resorts. This means that the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti  Region is an attractive tourism destination”, Partsvania noted. 

This year, Samegrelo hosted the first festival dedicated to Kolkhetian Wine. This platform is to revive ancient Kolkhetian vine varieties, and develop wine tourism together with family wine cellars. As noted by Partsvania, this is definitely a new phase of agro tourism development in Samegrelo. 

M2 development company has been building a 5-star hotel in the center of Zugdidi. The project’s investment is worth 8 million USD. Furthermore, in Ganmukhuri, the Cartu Fund and the Co-Investment Fund have been implementing a joint project to build a 120-suite international-brand hotel. Many other hotel projects are also being implemented in the village of Mukhuri, Chkhorotsku Municipality. In reality, hotel development has been dramatically enlivened in Samegrelo. The demand is also growing for local culinary specialities, because international tourists seek new tastes and the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region has real potential to gain its worthy place in the field of gastronomy tourism. 

Today, visitors only cross Samegrelo to get to Svaneti. Therefore, our objective is to somehow make these tourists interested in Samegrelo, too, so they stay here”, Partsvania said. 

As for agribusiness, hazelnut plantations maintain a leading position, and bilberry plantations are also in active development, Partsvania pointed out. 

Kiwi plantations covering 540 hectares in the region are also very important. The farmers should ensure high quality to prevent problems with sales, Partsvania noted. 

The bilberry gardens arranged on 150 hectares as part of the Plant Future project are worth fleshing out in detail.

“We expect the acreage of bilberry plantations to rise to 250-300 hectares, even more so as the authorities provide a 100% grant program. Those with 0.5 hectare gardens and small-scale plots have the opportunity to obtain funding. This is a new practice in our country, especially when the market price of unfrozen blueberry ranges from 5 to 7 EUR. The price for bio products doubles. There are no exports and sales problems in this field. DCFTA enables us to export these products to the EU market without barriers”, Partsvania pointed out.

Snail production is also a very important field. The snail farm is based in the village of Akhali Khibula. The government has funded the farm with  1.2 million GEL in preferential credit. The company implementing the offers the population the opportunity to  arrange snail farms on at least 1,000 square meters by attracting at least 4,000 EUR investments, and the company will purchase of product in their entirety.   The snail is primarily consumed in France, Spain and Italy. For example, France mainly imports snails from Eastern European countries. 

We plan to provide active work in tea cultivation. Today, we can rehabilitate 130 hectares of tea plantations. Therefore, we have begun this process to attract various investors to the agribusiness sector of Samegrelo, Partsvania said.