Summer Resort Season 2019 – Challenges and Expectations
The month of April 2019 recorded 647,770 international tourists and 348,519 touristic visits, up 14,018 visits compared to April 2018.
The information was given by the National Tourism Administration, based on Interior Ministry report. Positive trends were maintained from EU countries, including the month of April 2019, which recorded growth in the number of international tourists from the following countries: Austria +50.8%, Italy +45.6%, Spain +43.8%, France +43.7%, Germany +43.5%, Czech Republic +38.2% and so on. Significant growth was recorded from the following countries: Uzbekistan +125.7%, Thailand +97.5%, Kazakhstan +89.1%, Turkmenistan +52.1%, China +30.6%, United Arab Emirates +26.3% and so on. The period of January-April 2019 recorded 2,265,318 international tourists, up 2.9% year on year, and 1,230,649 tourist visits, up 56,608 visits year on year (+4.8%).
According to the prior report, in January-March, incomes from international tourism made up 578 million USD, up 28 million USD compared to the same period of 2018 (+5 %). How will the 2019 tourism season proceed, and what are the current expectations and how prepared is the country for meeting the coming summer season? The City of Love, the project launched in Sighnaghi 12 years ago, have not brought desirable results for the hotel business. Today, private sector representatives talk about unresolved problems that should be tackled to increasing tourist inflows to Sighnaghi.
Tea Karagozishvili, the founder of the Three Gracia guesthouse, notes that the summer season has already started in Sighnaghi. The majority of holidaymakers are foreign tourists, including those from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Netherlands. As for Georgians, they mainly arrive in Sighnaghi on the weekends, she said. Karagozishvili says that this year has seen an improved situation, compared to 2018. Namely, the problem with drinking water has been tackled, and roads were rehabilitated.
“I have resolved the problems with drinking water. I have water reservoirs. Moreover, drinking water is supplied to the city in a continuous regime. Water supply may be disrupted in the daytime for several hours, but my guests never learn about this”, Karagozishvili said. She also stresses that tourist attractions should be arranged in the city to attract more tourists.
“Guides stress that Sighnaghi is a small city with unimportant infrastructure, and one hour suffices to see the whole city. Therefore, tourists who arrive in the morning, leave the city in the evening. Despite these challenges, the tourist inflow has not declined. I believe that if these problems are resolved, the inflow will considerably increase”, Karagozishvili noted.
To tackle this problem, the director of Three Gracia hotel plans to open a facility with the support of their own NGO organization, Temi Qedeli.
Namely, she plans to open an art café and museum, where visitors to the city will be able to see the history of Sighnaghi in the same space. “I am eager to take certain steps which will include organizing evening lotto games, charity evenings, preparing jams and marmalades. Similar activities will highlight the importance of Sighnaghi. At this stage, visitors only arrive here and then leave, while the museum will demonstrate the history and wealth of the city, as well as collections of old photos. We are arranging one room in the old style”, Tea Karagozishvili noted. It would be excellent if the local self-government shows interest in similar activities, she pointed out.
The Sighnaghi municipality officials explains that the city has hosted 3,149 domestic and international tourists as of May 24, 2019. This category has used the services of the Tourism Information Center. Therefore, real tourist inflow is bigger, and it is growing. The visitor inflow has grown by 20%-30%, compared to previous years. The majority of visitors come from Russia, Poland, Germany and the USA.
The tourism season will reach its peak period in September-October. As for the arrangement of infrastructure, the Sighnaghi municipality asserts that a lot of infrastructural projects were carried out in the city in 2018. “No rehabilitation projects were carried out in Sighnaghi since 2007. In 2018, we carried out several projects for rehabilitating pavements, facades and balconies. We have spent 100,000 GEL on these activities. The municipality has also arranged an approach road to the dendrology park (257,844 GEL), tourism maps were redesigned (12,000 GEL), WCs were also rehabilitated (6,000 GEL), tourism pathways were renewed ( 3,000 GEL). As for water supply, consumption increased in 2018, and water supply was carried out under schedule in the summer period. The United Water Supply Company serves the city, Sighnaghi municipality representatives said. This year, Sighnaghi local self-government will finance the arrangement of a new well (77,041 GEL) and water resources will be supplied to local residents. Thus, water supply problems will be dealt with in 2019.
At the same time, another layer of asphalt and concrete will be laid on Abramishvili, Bezhashvili, Mosashvili and Mosulishvili streets. The project is underway. Road rehabilitation works will be financed by 614,130 GEL.
As for Svaneti, the Kala-Ushguli road section is one of the key components for the coming summer tourism season. The project’s implementation started several years ago, and was finished recently. Neli Naveriani, the first deputy head of Mestia, says that the Svaneti Region, including Mestia District, is meeting the 2019 summer season well prepared. The Kala-Ushguli road section has been arranged to provide comfortable transportation for tourists and local residents, Neli Naveriani pointed out.
Moreover, tourist routes and pathways are marked to the direction of Chuberi. The idea and territory were provided by the Mestia Municipality, while the works were carried out by the National Tourism Agency. A new tourism route will be added to the Svaneti Region, she noted. As for tourist inflows, the January-April 2019 indicators have exceeded the 2011 annual inflow.
More than 23,700 tourists visited the Region in 2017, and the figure rose to 25,000 in 2018, Neli Naveriani noted. This year, at least 170 guesthouses will host tourists in the Svaneti region. Local residents show huge interest in starting a private business in the tourism sector, as a lot of applications are submitted to the municipality for obtaining construction licenses, she said. Waste management issues have also been resolved. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants. Mestia airport also works on an active regime, Neli Naveriani said. The owners of Qoruldi Guesthouse in Svaneti explained that the tourism season has actively started in Svaneti. The guesthouse is already hosting tourists.
The inflow will increase in the peak season, because tourists show growing interest in Svaneti year to year. “In general, tourists give preference to peaceful and stable countries, and Georgia provides a similar environment. The local government provides active work to offer comfortable and convenient atmosphere to tourists, so as they visit region repeatedly. We have arranged roads, infrastructure. We will meet the summer season prepared”, owners of Qoruldi hotel noted. As for prices, the standard 2-bed rooms are rented for 60 GEL a day. Batumi is also coming to the summer season with several novelties.
Representatives of LEPL Batumi Boulevard noted that the Batumi Boulevard will have a development plan, for the first time. The local administration provides active work for boulevard conservation.
Infrastructural projects are being carried out in an active regime for the coming season, the company representatives noted. ‘We have started the rehabilitation of the bicycle lane. As a result, the cycle lane, which is 5,100 meter long, will be arranged and painted. The track will be maximally comfortable and safe”, the Batumi Boulevard representatives noted. Plastic attractions at the children’s corner on New Boulevard will be replaced by new children’s attractions made of ecologically clean wood materials. Swan Lake on Old Boulevard will also be . WCs built to modern standards will be arranged on the Old Boulevard, together with a children’s space, too.
“The Batumi Boulevard’s coastline enter the season with infrastructure adapted for the disabled. As a result, wooden pathways, showers and lockers and adapted WCs will be arranged. The seaside will be equipped with floating wheelchairs that will enable PWDs to enter the sea, independently. This project is being carried out in Georgia, for the first time, with the aim to promote inclusive tourism’, Batumi Boulevard representatives noted.
Batumi infrastructure development continues. The coastline is freed from shapeless and illegal facilities by the initiative of the Batumi Boulevard, and with the support of Adjara Government and Batumi City Hall, they noted. It is of crucial importance that the coastline zone provide calm and safe environment for city residents and guests.
In the near future, Batumi Boulevard will be ready to host a lot of important festivals and concerts, Batumi Boulevard representatives noted. Nana Baladze, the manager of Dream Tower, a 3-star hotel in Batumi, says the hotel has opened for the coming season.
She is meeting the new season with huge expectations. The hotel has already received bookings for the June-September period. “In this period, we will host guests from Belarus, Turkey. The Batumi municipality has brought everything in order, and we believe the city’s visitors will be content”, Baladze noted. At this stage, a 1-bed standard suite is rented for 80 Gel a day with breakfast, but prices grow in active season.