Sustainable Tourism Development in Tusheti
In 2018, Zrda Activity expanded its coverage area in the Akhmeta Municipality to additional five communities, including mountainous Tusheti, in an effort to make a sustainable tourism development approach in Tusheti aiming to ensure continuous balance between economic development of the territory and natural/environment protection through the involvement of the local community.
As such, Zrda assisted the Tusheti community to create a sustainable market economy through interventions in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors (tourism and services) implemented through grants, capacity building activities/trainings and technical assistance including engaging the private sector actors as well as public sector representatives.
During 2018-2021 through Zrda support following activities were implemented:
- Babaneuri Working Group: Zrda established a working group comprised of community leaders, local government, The Tusheti Protected Landscape Administration (TPLA), civil society, and private sector to establish a participatory public-private platform to serve as a united voice that advocates for concerns and community needs of Tusheti. Zrda built the capacity of the working group on how to create annual action plans, design, implement, and monitor activities to support the sustainable economic development of mountainous
- Community infrastructure support and technical assistance to improve overall service delivery:
- Established solar-powered community cold storage facility for tourism and service businesses.
- Established and equipped campsites to sustainably accommodate and distribute tourist flows.
- Redesigned tourism information center to make it more user-friendly.
- Donated equipment and uniforms to TPLA rangers; Donated solar panels to sustainably power ranger station.
- Revived cultural routes through provision of maps, information boards, and cultural route guides to create new tourism attractions in 10 villages.
- Created digital footprints for all of Tusheti, putting businesses, museums, and other essential tourism infrastructure on google maps.
- Grants programs and trainings in tourism and agriculture sector:
- Provided business grants to 40 guesthouses.
- Equipped 6 restaurants with modern equipment.
- Created 10 new touristic services (camping sites, bakeries, car repair, etc.)
- Supported 28 Tush artisans to preserve and market traditional craft-making techniques.
- 18 farmers were trained and financed in beekeeping, fruits, and vegetable production.
- Worked with Alvani VET “Aisi” to establish a tour guide training program through which 20 tour guides have already been certified.
- In total, 170 trainings were delivered in Tusheti in guesthouse management, hospitality, tourism services, farming, and cultural heritage preservation.
- Equestrian tourism:
- 12 equestrian tour guides were trained certified by international experts in Tbilisi and France and equipped with gear in line with international standards.
- Zrda supported the Endurance Riding and Equine Tourism Association (ERETA) to become a member of the Fédération Internationale de Tourisme Equestre (FITE) putting Georgia on the map for safe adventure tourism.
- Cultural Heritage:
- Donated equipment to Tushetian Ethnographic Museum of Keselo to preserve artifacts and create a more tourism-friendly environment.
- Partnered with Georgian Wheat Growers Association to support the revival of ancient Tush grains in support of application process to be accepted on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.
- Promotional Activities:
- Conducted info tours for over 20 Georgian tour operates to promote unexplored Tusheti destinations.
- Created new tourism products like “Tushuri Tabla” Geo/Eng cookbook to promote traditional gastronomy and cuisine locally and internationally.
In 2018-2021 from an initial investment of up to GEL 600,000 overall impact of Zrda’s sustainable tourism development model in Tusheti of Akhmeta Municipality resulted in around GEL 4.1 million in revenue and 45 new jobs.