What happened in Tourism Sector in 2019?
The Georgian tourism sector has successfully completed the year 2019 and maintained an intense pace of growth, despite artificial barriers.
In previous years, industry, development and many other sectors acted as growth engines, but today, the tourism and service industry is one of the key locomotives of the Georgian economy. Tourism as a ratio of GDP is also growing, and the figure was at 7.7% in January-June 2019.
In 2018, the country hosted 8,679,544 guests, while the same figure was recorded only in January-November 2019. If not for the Russian flight ban, the tourism inflow to Georgia would be much higher. However, the country has maintained the tourism industry’s pace of growth. Thanks to the excellent work of the National Tourism Administration, we have very good numbers at the end of 2019.
According to the National Tourism Administration, the January-November 2019 period recorded 8,690,352 international travelers, and this is a new, historic record. Year on year growth made up 7.2%. The same period recorded 7,191,042 international visits, up 6.6% year on year and 4,768,432 tourist visits, up 6.3% year on year.
According to the November 2019 report, 82,029 international visits were recorded from the Russian Federation, down 10.9% compared to the same period of 2018, including 53,599 tourist visits, down 24% year on year.
As for January-November 2019, the reporting period registered 1,406,255 visits from the Russian Federation, up 4.9% year on year, including 1,038,132 tourist visits, up 0.1% year on year.
It is noteworthy that in November, revenues from international tourism rose by 5.6%, and amounted to 201,734,437 USD, up 10.6 million USD year on year. According to preliminary estimations, revenue from international travel made up 3,051,424,548 USD in January-November 2019, up 1.2% year on year (up 35.4 million USD).
Minister of Economy Natia Turnava hopes that the number of international travelers in 2019 will exceed 9 million.
Despite all the challenges which arose in 2019, the tourism sector keeps making progress, and it demonstrates a lot of potential for development, the Economy Minister pointed out.
“We have completed the huge work of giving an immediate response, and promote the most vulnerable part of this industry – small hotels. I mean the program for subsidizing bank loan interest rates of small hotels. Our mission was to support this small, but important segment of the market in the environment of the June 2019 emergency. I am happy that more than 70 small hotels have enjoyed this opportunity. I am also pleased that the tourism sector retains this scale, despite the many barriers. The field has shown irreversible growth. I believe that in 2020, we will make up for all the losses inflicted after the June 20 developments”, Natia Turnava noted.
The Russian flight ban has hit both the tourism and the aviation sector, but the situation is not irreparable. Government and private sectors have given an immediate reaction and the sector has overcome the crisis, in whole. Crucial assistance was provided by the Spend Your Summer in Georgia campaign, which was quickly changed into the Spend 4 Seasons in Georgia all-seasons campaign. The objective of the social network group is to popularize the country. The group actively shares photo and video materials that demonstrate Georgia’s real tourism potential (#spendyoursummeringeorgia). Influential governmental and public figures have joined the campaign, as well as foreign citizens, who are familiar with Georgia and want to popularize our country, too.
In 2019, Georgia assumed the Council of Europe’s Presidency. This is a very important step for our aspirations towards European integration, and further popularize our country.
In 2019, Georgia joined the WYSE Travel Confederation to diversity tourism flows, and attract more young tourists to Georgia, stimulate exchange programs for young people. WYSE Travel unites 450 organizations from 120 countries, and its objective is to examine the profile of young travelers: requirements, motivation for traveling, and so on.
At the same time, in 2019 Tbilisi, was adopted into the World Tourism Cities Federation. Membership in the association will foster the developing tourism potential of Tbilisi, and make the capital city more visible, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze noted.
“This means active cooperation between member cities in the tourism sector, establishing new contacts with associations in various industries, thematic and business meetings, marketing of tourism products and increasing visibility, and so on. Thus, we should do our best to introduce our country to the world, its capital city, its sightseeing, traditions. We have wonderful cuisine, wines and most importantly, we have hospitable people, and any tourist pays repeated visits to Tbilisi, together with their friends and families.
Therefore, the tourism sector requires serious support, Kakha Kaladze noted. In 2019, the National Tourism Administration restored the tradition of meeting foreign tourists with Saperavi wines at Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi airports. The project is implemented as part of the marketing campaign of the National Tourism Administration, and its objective is to ensure popularizing Georgia as a hospitable country. Moreover, the wine bottle’s label describes Georgia as the homeland of winemaking, a country with unique traditions, culture and cuisine.
“We launched a very positive campaign at all three major airports in Georgia. As part of the campaign, we give Saperavi wines to foreign guests. The wine label gives everyone the key message of the hospitality of our country. We teach them how to say GAMARJOBA (HELLO!). We are happy that this campaign has instilled tourists with very positive emotions. They say that they have never experienced a similar campaign or hospitality in other countries”, the National Tourism Administration’s Director Mariam Kvrivishvili noted.
It is noteworthy that Britain’s most influential association of tour operators (ABTA – the Association of British Travel Agents) has named Georgia as the best destination for 2020. Besides Georgia, the report names 11 other top destinations, such as the Netherlands, South Korea, Madrid, Vienna, and other cities and regions.
“Georgia is an unbelievably pleasant destination. Direct flights are carried out from the United Kingdom to Tbilisi. The capital city of Georgia offers diverse entertainment opportunities, with a growing number of clubs, numerous bars and restaurants and highly regarded Georgian wines.
Georgia is an exceptional country, with forrested areas and wild nature. 70% of the country is covered by woodlands. UNESCO has recognized many locations in Georgia as centers of world cultural heritage, including: Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Friendly and hospitable people make Georgia a unique country”, the report reads.
In 2019, the National Tourism Administration obtained an award at the London International Exhibition “WTM -2019”, where Georgia was named among 30 new tourism destinations to visit in 2020. Georgia tops the list. A special award of international bloggers was transmitted to the National Tourism Administration.
The influential tourism website Travel Lemming has named Georgia as Europe’s best new tourism destination. The jury of traveler bloggers named Georgia as the number one destination among 30 new routes. The country was nominated for the award by the National Tourism Administration.
It is also important that the video clip on Georgia that was shown at the Gothenburg Adventure Tourism World Summit (Sweden), together with 750 other films, won first place in the fieldof adventure tourism.
The video clip describes Georgia’s adventure tourism. The clip was created as part of the National Tourism Administration project, in cooperation with GMP Films.
The video clip collected more than 17 million visitors on social networks, worldwide.
In 2019, Batumi won the Tourism Oscar. Namely, in Portugal, Madeira, Batumi won the title of Europe’s Growing Tourism Destination at the award ceremony of one of the influential tourism events, the World Travel Awards.
For the first time in the history of business tourism, in 2019, Batumi, Georgia, hosted the Masterclass in Industry of Meetings. The event was organized by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Georgia was selected as a host country from among many other, competitor countries. Representatives of the domestic private sector and companies, which are members of the National Tourism Administration Bureau for Conventions and Exhibitions, attended the event.