Monday, December 31, 2012

Season's greetings from publisher of

Dear respected readers,

All the's team is sending our sincere greetings and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year to you!

According to ancient Georgian tradition, the New Year tree chichilaki should be burned after the New Year. Together with its smoke, all troubles will be gone. As in 2012 we have luckily avoided the end of the world, let's now enter into a brave new world without grim predictions, and with all the positive energy!

2012 was an important year for us, as we launched two daily news services: Hvino News and Hvino Tour News. They are quite successful,  gaining more readership with every month. We will be happy to further develop our service in 2013, supporting international promotion of Georgian brands.

I am lucky to celebrate this New Year in the beautiful city of Tbilisi. From here I am sending congratulations  to over 120 countries of the world, where our readers live. Thank you for reading our news, and happy New Year! 

Alexander Kaffka

Will TAV manage Tbilisi Airport in 2013?

31.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The state will finance construction of a new runway at Tbilisi International Airport while  the government is going to start talks with TAV Georgia. According to Economy Minister Giorgi  Kvirkashvili,  TAV Georgia planned the runway construction based on attracted resources, and in return, terms of airport exploitation were  extended for another 10 years.

“Now we are working to  resolve runway strip construction issue together with TAV. The government adopted a resolution, according to which,  the state will finance the runway construction on bilateral basis, and  a contract with TAV will not be extended for another  10 years ,"- said Mr. Kvirkashvili.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Economy minister names tourism most important direction for 2013

30.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili spoke about  tourism field at the press conference in Tbilisi. He said that next year tourism would be one of the most important directions because of its great potential in terms of employment and infrastructure development.

Kvirikshvili said that the state allocated more than 5 million GEL for  tourism programs from  the budget which will be used for  regional development, creation of new tourism projects, opening of information centers  and personnel training.

"Tourism will be one of the most important areas, "- Kvirikashvili stressed.

As Chairman of the National Tourism Agency Maya Sidamonidze wrote a resignation letter on December 26, two candidates will be considered for the post of Chairman of the National Tourism Agency. As the Economy Minister  said, Maya Sidamonidze made  decision to resign herself, and there was no  pressure from the government. According to the Deputy Minister Dmitry Kumsishvili,  National Tourism Agency will get a new head in late January.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Director of National Tourism Agency leaves her post

29.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Maia Sidamonidze, director of the National Tourism Agency of Georgia,  will leave her post on January 1. Ms. Sidamonidze leaves her post at her own request. "I have been serving in this position for already three years. Now I decided to leave and to be engaged in the private sector," she told reporters on Friday. Sidamonidze was appointed head of the Tourism Agency on a competitive basis.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kobuleti Free Tourism Zone project might be revised

28.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Fati Khalvashi, Member of Parliament representing Kobuleti, will raise the issue of revision of Kobuleti Free Tourism Zone (FTZ) project in Parliament. He suggests that Kobuleti Tourism Zone covers the land of cultural significance and hotels construction in this territory is not justified. However, for three hotels which are already under construction, investors will be able to complete the projects.

According to initiative of former government, tax benefits are offered to investors in Kobuleti tourism zone, and in total 26 hotels should be built there.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tbilisi is on second place in "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013"

26.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) "So where will you plan your next foodie adventure? Here are the top seven places to eat around the world in 2013". Elyse Pasquale, food and travel writer at The Huffington Post (USA), also known for Foodie International, published her list "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013". Tbilisi is on the second place in this top list:
Tbilisi, Georgia
The Republic of Georgia is one of the world's most fascinating up-and-coming culinary destinations. The tiny country's cuisine is influenced by its geography, resulting in a remarkable combination of Middle Eastern and Eastern European flavors. In Tbilisi you'll fall in love with khachapuri, a pizza-like flatbread stuffed with molten cheese. Other traditional foods include meaty soup dumplings, cilantro-spiked red beans, thick buffalo yogurt and unleavened bread cooked over hot coals. And then there's the wine; Georgia invented it. According to oeno-historians, Georgia has the oldest recorded history of fermenting grapes to make wine, dating back to 5000 BCE. Today, an ancient technique of making wine underground in clay vessels called qvevri is being revitalized. Attend a supra, or Georgian feast, where food and wine meet traditional music.
Other cities of list "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013" include: San Sebastian, Osaka, Lima, Kiev, Palermo, Antigua (Guatemala)

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Detecting Georgian tourism's bottlenecks

By Giorgi Mekerishvili

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of UN (T&T CI) ranked Georgia 73, in 2011. With this rank, Georgia topped South Caucasus region nevertheless, maintaining the same rank as in 2009. This could mean that not much had improved during those three years in terms of competitiveness of Georgia as a brand in the business of tourism.

Looking at the data on international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts – they both have been steadily increasing since 2000.

From the first glance this upward trend seems promising. We have more tourists and more receipts. So, what is the problem?

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Hilton" hotel opening under question

24.12.2012. The opening of "Hilton" brand hotel in Tbilisi is in doubt. The American brand’s official partner in Georgia David Kodua  said that refugees are still staying in “Sakartvelo” hotel where "Hilton" should open. According to Kodua, the deadline for completion of the project is until the end 2013, so if the refugees do not leave the building in time, the project could not be implemented.

The businessman is going to hold a meeting with Minister of Refugees and Resettlement in the coming days and expects the ministry to satisfy the refugees with alternative spaces. David Kodua took a loan for the project from "TBC Bank" and has a 22-year license for "Hilton" hotel functioning in Georgia.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saakashvili rates high Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project

23.12.2012. Mikheil Saakashvili thinks the continuation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is very important for the country’s euro-integration course.Georgia’s president wrote about it on his Facebook wall. He made the statement after Prime Minister's Bidzina Ivanishvili’s interview where he said the project raises a number of questions. Saakashvili said the intention of the PM is agreed with relations with Russia.

The president demanded that such issues be put for public discussion. In the interview Georgia’s PM stated that there are a number of issues connected with the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Ivanishvili said he will raise the issue during his visit to Azerbaijan. “I will sensitively explain to our neighbors that in a certain phase the project may not be beneficial for us,” he said.


Friday, December 21, 2012

"New York Times": Georgia: A Stalinist Restoration

21.12.2012. A municipal assembly in Gori on Thursday voted to restore a monument of Stalin, the Soviet leader who died in 1953. It was a rebuke to President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has tried to clear Georgia of all vestiges of Soviet symbolism. A monument of Stalin stood for 48 years in the central square in Gori, his birthplace, until June 2010, when the authorities removed it. Mr. Saakashvili’s party was defeated in October by an opposition coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili. Some members of Mr. Ivanishvili’s coalition promised to restore monuments to Stalin in Gori and other cities. Zviad Khmaladze, the leader of Gori’s district assembly, said that $15,000 would be allocated to set up the monument near the small house where Stalin was born.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Airzena to resume flights to Kiev

20.12.2012. Georgian airline Airzena resumed flights to Kiev. The airline will perform flights to this Ukraine's destination on new "Boeing 737" aircraft, which Airzena recently purchased. The airline will perform flights to Kiev four times a week : Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The cost of ticket Kiev - Tbilisi starts from 99 Euro, and the lower rate is a part of the New Year special offer.

According to company's decision, the passengers can carry additional 10 kg, apart from 20 kg of free baggage. Due to tourist season, Kiev - Tbilisi passengers can carry travel accessories (for skiing) free of charge.

British Airways names Tbilisi in "Top 13 Destinations to visit in 2013"

20.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) According to British Airlines press release, Tbilisi is named as one of "Top 13 Destinations to visit in 2013" for tourists and business passengers. Tbilisi  is in company with other warm-weather destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, and San Diego, California.

Paolo De Renzis, Area Commercial Manager Middle East and Central Asia, said the list for 2013 is a mix of new destinations and popular favourites. "This list shows that while travelers are eager to visit well-established destinations such as Las Vegas and Dubai, they are also looking for something off the beaten path. Tbilisi sights reflect our passengers' expectations today and that's why Tbilisi got into the list of 13 most requested routes in 2013. The city’s oldest part and the newly discovered tombs, sulfur baths, the best Georgian food and folklore are "must-see"  for world travelers".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Touristic destination or trade corridor?

by Eric Livny

19.12.2012. For more than four years (since November 2008) there has been no downward pressure on the Georgian currency. In fact, at least until June 2012, the Lari has been gaining in real value against the major global currencies. While running large and increasing trade deficits ($4.5bln in the first 10 months of 2012, compared to $3.9 bln in 2011) Georgia was able to meet importers’ demand for foreign currency through a combination of borrowing abroad, direct budget support and grants provided by the international community, foreign direct investment (FDI), a steady flow of remittances from Georgian workers abroad, and last but not least, income from tourism. While FDI levels have never recovered to their pre-August 2008 levels, the latter two sources, remittances and income from tourism, have been particularly important given their size and relative stability over time.
The efforts to develop Georgia as a major touristic destination in recent years seem to have paid off. The number of international arrivals to Georgia has been growing rapidly, reaching 2,822,363 in 2011. In the first 11 months of 2012, the number of visitors exceeded 4mln, which is 58% more than in the same period of 2011.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

President visited Georgia's corner at Christmas market in Strasbourg

18.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili visited Christmas Market in Strasbourg, France, where Georgia is represented for the first time this year. President said that Georgia had the best chance nowadays to get closer to the European Union and in 2013, the country may have free trade and visa free regime with the EU member states.

Georgia has presented Georgian products, wine, souvenirs. Visitors can taste Georgian dishes and attend performances of Georgian dance and vocal bands and other cultural events. Within the Georgian week, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili will give a concert. Presentation of Georgian movies are also planned. Read also: Georgia is the guest country at Strasbourg Christmas Market.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prize of Britain's oldest magazine is awarded to essay about Tbilisi

17.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The oldest British magazine The Spectator (established in 1828) awarded its 2012's Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize prize to article about Tbilisi. The Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize is relaunched this year and awarded annually "to the entrant best able to describe a visit to a ‘foreign’ place or people".

The 2012's winning essay is "Tbilisi: The Edge of the Real" by Tara Isabella Burton. The beginning of the article follows below:
The electricity will be on in one hour, says my landlady. She tells me that it is dark out all over town (ignoring the glittering chrome bridge over the Mtkvari River, ignoring the casino that casts neon shadows on the banks at night). She calls me ‘daughter’ and evades specifics. Won’t I come upstairs for dinner at eight, or perhaps nine? (She is so busy; she works so hard; she’ll ring when dinner is ready.) The call never comes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

South Caucasus tourism research data published

16.12.2012. Comprehensive study of tourism and hotel services in South Caucasus was conducted by Ameria Consultancy to assess the current situation and the development trends in this segment. The study is an analysis of the macroeconomic condition, hotel sector earnings, their share in the overall GDP, average annual rates of hotel rooms in the South Caucasus region, a comparison of occupancy figures, as well as the prevailing trends.

The results of the study show that in 2011 about 5.2 million people visited the South Caucasus countries on business and other purposes.

According to a senior expert in Ameria, Artashes Shaboyan, in 2002 Georgia accounted for 28.8% of the total number of tourists visiting the South Caucasus; in 2011 it accounted already for 54.9 %. In 2002 Azerbaijan accounted for 55.6%, in 2011 its share dropped to 30.4%. Armenia was third, 15.6% in 2002 and 14.7% in 2011.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Betania resort meets season with cableway for kids

15.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Betania resort will offer visitors a new cableway. Beka Beradze of "Rendezvous Betania" said cableway will be for kids of 7 - 18 years old, but the children under 6 years will also be able ride - free of charge and with parent's supervision. Apart from a cableway for kids, the visitors will be able to use new food facilities. "Rendezvous Betania" is going to offer a variety entertainments.

Mr. Beradze says the resort is able to host 4 500 people.  Betania is located 18 kilometers from Tbilisi and has a 600 meter mountain, skiing trails, two ropeways, indoor and outdoor cafés, and a hotel. Users visit Betania mostly for weekend for several hours, but some of them stay at the resort.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Georgian officials comment on development of tourism sector

14.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). "Tourism development in the country will be based on agricultural sector", - said Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Sector Economy Zurab Tkemaladze. He says that Georgia will not be dependent solely on tourism, and agricultural area, on which the development of tourism will be based, is announced a priority today.

According to the head of the National Tourism Agency Maia Sidamonidze, tourism remains a priority in Georgia, along with additional jobs, as this sector can attract more investments. Sidamonidze explains that in Georgia all the infrastructure projects are underway which will promote the development of tourism and infrastructure. Sidamonidze said that the launched projects will continue in Borjomi and Racha, and infrastructure projects are continuing with support of World Bank funds (see also: World Bank supports infrastructure in Georgia).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gudauri Radisson's construction contractor changed

13.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Construction of Radisson hotel in Gudauri will be finished by Artes company and not by Georgian Guns. Georgian Guns' representative says that at this stage there is no claims between Gudauri Development Fund and the company and negotiations are underway to determine the costs and unforeseen expenditures .

The company has not divulged why the contract was changed, according to which Gudauri Development Fund ordered the company a 5-star hotel instead of 3-star without increase in budget. Also, it’s unclear why the company which will complete construction of the hotel was changed. As Georgian Guns notes, internal works in the hotel are almost completed and the unit is expected to be finished next summer.

Minority member in Tbilisi City Assembly Zaza Gabunia will hold a meeting with Georgian Guns without participation of Gudauri Development Fund. Gabunia explains that the meeting serves to identify the parties’ responsibility. Along with that, Gabunia is studying the documents and if it is revealed that the contract was changed unlawfully, he will apply to the Prosecutor's Office.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Warmer winter is expected in Georgia

12.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The average winter temperature in Georgia will be higher than normal this winter season, according to National Environmental Agency. The agency predicts the winter will be warmer in eastern Georgia and in western coastal regions high rainfall will be observed. At the same time, the temperature will be higher than normal.

According to the agency, the average winter temperature is usually 5-9 degrees in western Georgia, but this season temperature will rise several degrees. The temperature is expected to rise 2 degrees in the east of Georgia while the average winter temperature in East Georgia in the past years was -1-2 degrees.

According to the National Environmental Agency, a few degrees increase of the average winter temperature would not affect the holiday season.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Head of "North Caucasus Resorts" talks about tourism in Georgia

10.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Northern Caucasus Resorts (NCR) is a Russian company which is developing world-class resorts under a project of development of tourism cluster in the South of Russia, including  Lagonaki (Krasnodar Region, Adygeуa), Arkhyz (Karachay-Cherkessia), Elbrus-Bezengi (Kabardino-Balkaria), Mamison (North Ossetia-Alania), Matlas (Dagestan), Tsori and Armkhi (Ingushetia),  beach resorts on the coast of the Caspian Sea (Dagestan). Chairman of the Board of Directors of OJSC "North Caucasus Resorts” Ahmed Bilalov was interviewed by radio Commersant.

- When the North Caucasus resorts will receive the first tourists and on what segment are they calculated?

- Tourism Cluster Project which started in the south of Russia is extensive and covers all regions of the Russian Caucasus – from the Black Sea to the Caspian. According to the project, by 2020 there will be over 1 000 km long mountain - ski slopes, cableway meant for 20 people, hotels and apartments meant for 100 thousand rooms. The people of various taste and wallet will be able to rest here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hvino TOUR News launches "Breathtaking Georgia" Contest

09.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) We are pleased to announce our 2013 Photo Contest "HTN Breathtaking Georgia"Hvino Tour News welcomes photographs of Georgia, which reveal uniqueness and beauty of the country and its people.

The winners will receive a box of excellent Georgian wine - directly from the producer.

Additional prizes may be introduced from other sponsor companies (If you are a company interested in sponsorship, please contact us at e-mail mentioned below).

Contest is open to everyone: professional and non-professional photographers, from any country of the world, and from Georgia itself. Participants may submit one or several photographs.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Georgia is a safer destination for Israeli tourists than Turkey

08.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) As Georgian tourism is growing as a high profile investment area for Israeli tourism capital, Turkish media point out that Israeli tourists who for various reasons avoid Turkey often choose Georgia as safer destination.

Turkish media quote interview of Itsik Moshe, the President of Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business, to Georgian newspaper. Moshe said that 60,000 Israeli tourists visited Georgia in 2012: "The Chamber expects the arrival of 100,000 tourists for 2013 and intends to increase their number to at least 200,000. Eight percent of the tourists from Israel are from the medical sphere. As the statistics show, each tourist spends about USD 1,000 in Georgia".

Friday, December 7, 2012

Britain's "The Telegraph" on Tbilisi tourism

07.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The Telegraph, Britain's leading newspaper, has published yesterday an illustrated article on Tbilisi in its Travel Section.

Besides Tbilisi's touristic attractions, the article lists useful information like airline routes to Tbilisi, suggested hotels and restaurants with prices. Parts of article "Tbilisi, Georgia: a cultural city guide" by Claire Allfree follow below. 
"The fabulous land" is how Alexander Pushkin described Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia since the fifth century. And staring at this defiantly lovely city, which straddles the steep banks of the Mtkvari river, I can see why. The busy heart of the bleak and mountainous region that stretches beneath Russia’s southern border, Tbilisi has positioned itself for centuries as a crossroads between Europe and Asia, and proof of its long, tumultuous, bloody history of occupation is immediately evident – among other things – in the pastel-coloured onion layers of its higgledy-piggledy architecture.<...>

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Georgia and Mexico: cooperation in tourism

06.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Georgia and Mexico have signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of tourism. The signing ceremony was held on Devember 5 at the Secretariat of Tourism in Mexico City.

From Georgian side the document was signed by Ambassador to Mexico Mvalhaz Mikeladze. From Mexican side - by Gloria Guevara Manzo, Head of Secretariat of Tourism.

The ceremony was attended by counselor of Georgian Embassy G. Handamishvili, and by department head of Secretariat of Tourism of Mexico Virginia Messinia Portugal, Director-General of Social Communication Alberto Petrearse Vialpando, and adviser of the Foreign Ministry  Javier Guillermo. As noted at the ceremony, the signing of this memorandum is another step in the development of bilateral relations between Georgia and Mexico.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dimitri Kumsishvili: tourism marketing in social networks is more cost-efficient

05.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Tourism remains a priority area for Georgia, -  First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitri Kumsishvili said in an interview to Georgian newspaper Economic Palette.

"I can say explicitly and unequivocally that tourism is a priority area for us. We are well aware of importance of tourism development for the country and we will promote it in future. We realize  that development of  tourism industry means many jobs and a possibility  to fill our country's trade balance deficit. We met several times with representatives of tourist companies, "- Kumsishvili said.

Tourism business problems and ways of cooperation between government and private sector were discussed at recent meeting with representatives of  70 tour agencies  (read more here: Georgian government will support tourism sector)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Azerbaijani government: Baku-Tbilisi-Kars to be launched in 2013

Der Spiegel
04.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The first train of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway will be launched by the line at the end of 2013. The statement came from Deputy Minister of Transport of Azerbaijan Musa Panakhov today.

The project was originally to be completed by 2010,  later it was scheduled for completion by 2014.

Once completed,  BTK - called "Iron Silk Road" -  will begin at the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and travel through  Tbilisi, before carrying on to Kars, a Turkish town on the southwestern lip of the Caucasus region. In total 105 kilometers of new line will be built between Kars and Akhalkalaki, with 76 kilometers  within Turkey and 29 kilometers  in Georgia. The existing railway line from Akhalkalaki to Marabda and on to Tbilisi and Baku will be modernized. Its total length will be 826 kilometers (513 mi) and it will be able to transport 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and over 15 million tons of freight.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Goderdzi Pass resort to receive first visitors

04.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Goderdzi Pass will be able to get the first visitors from the end of December.

Construction of Goderdzi Pass mountain ski resort is carried with financial support of Austrian Government. Agreeement on over  € 10 million was signed by the Minister of Economy and Finance of Georgia Dimitry Gvindadze and the Manager of UniCredit Bank Austria AC Florence Werdisheim in June 1012. Works are implemented by the Austrian company Doppelmayr.

“Goderdzi Resorts” director Vazha Diasamidze explained that from the end of the month it will be possible to use a cableway   and in the first phase 9 gondolas for  8 persons will be operational, to carry 250 people per hour. A total of 68 gondolas can be  installed  and, as Diasamidze notes, it will depend on  demand.

Holiday Inn to offer package tours

Photo: The Financial 
04.12.2012. Holiday Inn is increasing the number of its rooms by adding one more floor to boost its current capacity. The hotel is currently the biggest in Georgia operating with 252 guest rooms. Holiday Inn does host "leisure" travelers,  but the majority of its guests are business delegations. The owner company of Holiday Inn Tbilisi founded the first Georgian hotel brand ‘Rooms’ in 2012 and the first Rooms hotel has now opened in Kazbegi.

“We are growing considerably and this means that tourism in general in Georgia is on the path of significant development,” Valeri Chekheria, CEO of Adjara+ Limited, the owner company of Holiday Inn Tbilisi, reported The Financial. “As well as the success of Holiday Inn Tbilisi, we have created the first Georgian hotel brand - Rooms. Our group has the burning ambition to make it a brand equal to international standards and operating with local concept. Today the first Rooms hotel, located in Kazbegi, the mountainous region of Georgia, is up and running and meeting all international standards. The hotel has already gained great popularity with both local and foreigner travellers. There is a Casino and various venues to host variety of events. A swimming pool and spa will be opened soon. All these facilities come with a great view over Mkinvari. This makes the place especially outstanding and stunning.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Chateau Mukhrani" to invest 8 million EUR in tourism

03.12.2012.  Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni-Bagrationi’s estate with its gardens, stable, antique cellars, Georgian and European restaurants, exhibition halls, wedding house,  suites, amphitheater  and more will open to tourists by August 2013.

Today the Bagrationi Estate in Mukhrani, located 35 km from Tbilisi, is already hosting visitors with its offers of exclusive wine tasting, lunch or dinner with a range of tasty Georgian dishes, horse riding, churchkhela-making, traditional Georgian bread-baking and chacha distillation.

Bagrationi estate in Mukhrani was a  center for the Georgian cultural elite in the 19th century. Ivane Mukhranbatoni, a well educated and talented landlord was famed for his winemaking. Even in the 19th century Mukhrani wines were very popular in Georgia as well as abroad.

Silk Road Group rules out law violations in Trump Tower and hotels in Adjara

02.12.2012. Silk Road Group rules out the facts of law violations may be revealed in connection with Trump Tower project. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the company stated that the area where the Batumi Tower is planned to be built was purchased from Adjara government.

According to Alexander Topuria, the tender was completed in full compliance with the law, the territory has been acquired in accordance with the market price and the project doesn’t require any checking. The new government of Adjara doesn’t rule out that Silk Road Group bought the territory from Batumi City Hall with violations - at the price that is lower than the current market price.

Along with that, the Ministry of Economy of Adjara had launched administrative proceedings against the company due to non-implementation of investment projects. As for the new complexes that had to be built on the territory of Meskheti and Media hotels until 2011, Topuria adds that on the basis of one of them Radisson hotel was opened despite the global crisis and the 2008 Georgia - Russian war. The company is ready to pay a penalty for failure to fulfill obligations in terms of the second project. In Topuria’s words, since 2006 Silk Road Group has invested in total 100 million USD in Adjara.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tourism is top priority for Adjara's government

Photo: Adjara TV
by Nino Edilashvili

02.12.2012. After the Georgian Dream coalition won the local elections in the Adjara Autonomous Republic, the new Georgian Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, nominated Archil Khabadze as the new head of the autonomous republic. Prior to this appointment, Khabadze was the regional head of Qartu Bank in Batumi. On October 30 local legislative body of the autonomous republic - Supreme Council - elected Khabadze with 13 votes.

With extensive experience in the banking sector, Khabadze, 31, thinks that he has skills to better manage the Adjara region. Apart from Qartu Bank, Khabadze also held senior positions at Georgian Maritime Bank and Intellect Bank– both in Batumi.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kazakh President to open Likani Sanatorium in Georgia

01.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will attend opening ceremony of the Likani Sanatorium during his official visit to Georgia in February 2013.

Therapeutic and wellness complex Likani in Borjomi was purchased by Kazakh company KazMunayGas in May of 2006 for 10 million dollars. The sanatorium was shortly closed for reconstruction. It has now been rebuilt.

The KazMunayGas subsidiary - KMG-service - is the operator of Likani project. According to KMG-Service, Kazakh party has invested around 6.5 million dollars in the project.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Number of foreign tourists in Adjara grew by 78 percent

30.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). In January-October 2012 number of foreign visitors in Adjara was 719,196 - an increase by 78% over the same period last year, according to the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Adjara.

In total 2012 Adjara received 1,452,204 visitors in January-October 2012. This is an increase by 28% over 2011. As compared to 2010, the increase is by 63%.

Majority of foreign visitors came from Turkey (20% of all visitors), Armenia (14% of foreign visitors,  7% of all visitors),  Iran (9.9% of the foreign visitors, 4.9% of all visitors)  and Azerbaijan (8.3% of the foreign visitors, 4.1% of all visitors).

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

EBRD to finance Novotel hotel construction in Tbilisi

Lasha Papashvili. Photo: Commersant
29.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a senior loan to finance the construction and operation of a 4-star hotel in Tbilisi.

EBRD will allocate 18.66 million for the hotel project, while the total cost of project cost is 31.1 million. The co-sponsors are Georgian businessman Lasha Papashvili and "Georgian Real Estate Holding". Recipient of EBRD's loan is "64 Chavchavadze LLC", which is a limited liability company incorporated in Georgia, whose ultimate beneficiaries are Mr. Lasha Papashvili and Mr. Sulkhan Papashvili.

Hotel "Redix" would be run under the Novotel brand by the hotel operator Accor. The project site is located on Chavchavadze Avenue, close to the city centre and major corporate demand generators, and would feature 160 rooms, 1900 square meters of retail space and approximately 70 underground parking units.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

New Georgian economic minister counts on trade with Russia

Photo: Ministry of Economy
By Margarita Antidze

29.11.2012. Georgia's new economic minister says his country, beset by high unemployment and low per capita output, wants double-digit growth rates in two or three years through the injection of pro-business policies.

It is also striving to restore trade tries with neighbouring Russia, severed after a 2008 conflict, Georgy Kvirikashvili told Reuters in an interview on Monday. If Georgia were to mend economic ties with Russia, it might be able to rebuild bilateral trade, which has slumped to just 5 percent of total trade after peaking at 20 percent in 2006. That was before a Kremlin crackdown on imports of Georgian wine and mineral water.

Growth would come from Georgia's measures to boost midsize businesses, dismantle state monopolies, develop the stock exchange and attract foreign investors, Kvirikashvili said. But not yet. He forecast growth of 7 percent both this year and in 2013.

Iran and Georgia to expand cultural and tourism ties

29.11.2012. Tehran's Ambassador to Tbilisi Majid Saber and Georgian Minister of Culture and Monument Protection Guram Odisharia on Tuesday underlined the necessity for the further expansion of cultural relations between the two countries.

During the meeting also attended by Iran's Cultural Attaché in Georgia Ehsan Khazayee, the Georgian minister described cultural interactions between the two countries as an irrefutable feature of their relations, and said his ministry is prepared to improve this cooperation.

"There have been remarkable cultural activities and measures between Iran and Georgia," he said, and added, "the more these activities are expanded, the more assured the friendship between the two nations will be."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Travel Weekly": Georgia rises

Photo: Travel Weekly / Godwin
28.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Today the leading US national newspaper of travel industry Travel Weekly published a fundamental article on Georgian tourism and wine tradition. Several excerpts from the article "Georgia rises" by Nadine Godwin follow:

When I passed through immigration at Georgia’s Tbilisi Airport, an agent quickly stamped my passport, then handed me a box.

Never before had I received a gift at an immigration checkpoint. The small bottle of red wine came with a message that said in part: “We warmly welcome you to Georgia, the country that gave wine to the world.” All arriving foreign-passport holders were gifted at entry in Tbilisi, a gesture that left no doubt about the country’s desire to please foreign visitors.

Georgia already is realizing some of its potential for wine tourism, with vintners in Kakheti, the country’s top winemaking region, offering tours and tastings.

Railway via Abkhazia: question is closed

Photo: Newsgeorgia
28.11.2012. According to Paata Zakareishvili, State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia, the Abkhaz railway topic is closed. He said that in reply to a journalist’s question, Commersant reported.

"The railway topic was closed after  the Abkhaz side didn't express an interest. On the contrary, they said that they were not interested in this issue. In my opinion, this issue should be interesting for the Abkhaz side,"- Paata Zakareishvili said, adding that the matter was finished.

The State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia Paata Zakareishvili discussed the initiative of resumption of the railway links with Russian via Abkhazia several weeks ago. The de facto Abkhaz government met negatively this proposal while the Russian side's position on this issue is not yet known. Armenia has expressed interest in restoration the Abkhaz section of the Georgian railway. The Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan said that it was very important for Armenia to have the opportunity to make use of this infrastructure, because it is the most inexpensive way for transportation from Russia.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rasmussen to invest in Georgia's tourism sector

27.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Michael Rasmussen, cousin of NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen, plans to invest in Georgia. According to Georgian magazine Kviris Palitra, Mr. Rasmussen said:

"Saakashvili’s government did nothing for the people’s well being. That’s why it was impossible to collaborate with Georgia. After the changes that took place in October, I can talk about large scale investments and business projects in Georgia. We plan to carry out projects in the oil business and developing the tourist industry, as well as energy and agriculture".

Michael Rasmussen is a businessman who runs businesses in various countries and now he has a large scale business project for Georgia.

“I became interested in Georgia after the parliamentary elections. My company is interested in carrying out large tourism projects and projects within the agricultural sector. Projects like that are successfully run in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Senegal. I think we will reach success in Georgia as well,” he says.

Monday, November 26, 2012

From Georgia with love

Photo:  Spaswinefood
26.11.2012. Sharon Parsons, an American journalist,  has published today a detailed account of recent tour of wine bloggers to Georgia, in the framework of EWBC conference in Turkey (read more here). Here are excerpts from Parsons' blog post:

Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, is rich in tradition. However, it is not every day that you get an opportunity to experience the rich wine and food traditions of a unique wine producing country, like Georgia.  During a recent EWBC post-conference trip to Georgia Spaswinefood had the opportunity to experience first hand the wonderful Georgian hospitality centered around wine making and cuisine.

Our first stop in Tbilisi was the Georgian National Museum where we toured the museum. One of the  visit for me was seeing a display of historical qvevris. Throughout our visit to Georgia we saw how qvevris are used in today's wine production.

Reverse side of Georgian tourism

Photo: Georgia Times
by Vladimir Tshvediani

26.11.2012. The current economic crisis in Europe has once again proved that tourism is not a universal recipe for economic prosperity. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus are the countries with a first-class tourist infrastructure. They are now visited by many guests. But it does not save them from the mass unemployment and crisis worsening by leaps and bounds. And the weightier is the tourist component of the economy, the more problems the country has.

This situation is not accidental. Hypertrophic tourism development suppresses many other areas of the economy. In places "tourist boom" the land and real estate prices instantly increase. Their prices can be quite acceptable to foreign investors, but they are too high for the locals.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Georgia is the guest country at Strasbourg Christmas Market

24.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) This year Georgia is the guest country of Strasbourg Christmas Market, which opens on November 24 in France. Founded in 1570, Strasbourg Christmas Market is the world's most famous one thanks to its size and location in the capital of Europe. This year, as Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg welcomes Georgia. Georgia's Minister of Culture Guram Odisharia will attend the opening  ceremony.

Georgia will set up Georgian Christmas Village on Place Gutenberg, in the city centre, where all the regions of Georgia will be represented, as well as Georgian products, traditional dishes and clothing. Georgian Christmas Village will be open from 24th November to 23rd December.

A programme of cultural and artistic events gives the opportunity to immerse in Georgian customs through traditional songs, folk dances and activities for children. The programme will include performance of Georgia National Ballet (Place Kléber), Exhibition on Georgia (parc de l'Étoile), and Georgian Film Festival (Odyssée Cinema, 3 rue des Francs Bourgeois).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Georgian government will support tourism sector

Photo: Ministry of Economy
21.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Dmitry Kumsishvili, First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia,  met with representatives of private companies operating in tourism sector. The meeting was attended by representatives of several dozen companies.

Mr. Kumsishvili stressed that tourism is one of main priorities of the new government and informed the company representatives about the government's action plan in tourism sector for the next year.

The Deputy Minister answered questions, including those related to the prospects of the tourism infrastructure development and the continuation of current projects. Mr. Kumsishvili said projects will continue, but they will be re-examined in terms of cost-efficiency.  The authorities plan to actively cooperate with the tourism sector in all areas. The Deputy Minister also informed about the initiative to create Advisory Council as a body to discuss situation in tourism sector and to adopt recommendations.

Previously, after the change of cabinet, some tourism business leaders expressed concerns about state policy in this important area (see: Tourism business dissatisfied with National Tourism Agency: "If tourism is not a priority for the government, it is better for the sector).

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tbilisi Marriott to celebrate 10th anniversary

Photo: Financial
18.11.2012. On 27 November Tbilisi Marriott Hotel will be celebrating its tenth anniversary. During this time Marriott in Tbilisi has contributed to tourism development in Georgia, brought the highest standards within the hospitality industry to the country and showed the world that Marriott can succeed in Georgia.

“Marriott was entering into an unfamiliar environment when it arrived in Georgia,” George Togonidze, General Manager of the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi, told The Financial. It was the first Marriott hotel not just in Georgia, but in the whole Caucasus region. It was at a time when global awareness of Georgia was still very low. But nevertheless the Marriott brand was here. I have personally met lots of tourists who back then knew very little about Georgia, but knew much more about Marriott. The Marriott brand is associated with the highest standards within the hospitality industry, therefore those people who know Marriott, perceive the country in which the brand operates as politically and economically stable. I must take this opportunity to convey my gratitude to our every associate at both hotels, who helped create such an environment that guests named Tbilisi Marriott and Courtyard Tbilisi as some of the very best Marriott hotels in Europe. People leave our hotels with a good impression and with the desire to return to Tbilisi,” he added.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Georgian delegation to attend EIBTM 2012 in Barcelona

18.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Georgian National Tourism Administration is participating in EIBTM 2012 (Exhibition for the Incentive Business Travel and Meetings) in Barcelona on November 27-29.

EIBTM is the leading global event for the meetings, incentives, events and business travel industry.Georgian National Tourism Administration will be presented at EIBTM 2012 with national private sector representatives. Georgia's booth number is J800.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

"Financial Times" on Georgian tourism

Photo FT / Marc McCrum
17.11. 2012   (HTN - Hvino Tour News). British newspaper "Financial Times" in its yesterday's edition published a large article on tourism in Georgia.

In accordance with FT's copyright requirements, we repost only a small article's fragment.

...Two days later, we were at the southeastern edge of the country, to spend our last days in Kakheti, the sunny district famed for its wines, not least because Georgia is the birthplace of viticulture. Containing skin and stem as well as fruit, Georgian wine has an earthier taste than most European wines but it soon grew on me.

“I think you have seen enough churches,” Soso laughed, as we opted to spend the afternoon sampling vintages in the lovely “English garden” of the manor house once owned by Alexander Chavchavadze, godson of Catherine the Great.

We spent the night in Signaghi, a hilltop town so pretty it bordered on twee. With its cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs and touristy signs, this was Mestia as it will be. Our landlady had Georgian wine in bottles, but Soso insisted that we try the local stuff, which came in a two-litre plastic container siphoned from a vat. Cloudy, fruity and slightly bitter, it was more like scrumpy than wine...

Full text of article by Mark McCrum entitled "Higher purpose" can be found on FT's website.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Jamestown Foundation*: Georgia proposes to unblock Trans-Caucasus Railway

Abandoned railway, Abkhazia. 
Photo: worldabandoned
by: Giorgi Menabde (The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor)

15.11.2012. One of the closest associates of Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili, has unveiled the government’s idea to unblock the railway link that connected Russia with the South Caucasus republics in Soviet times. Mr. Zakareishvili stated that this question had not been discussed officially by the government yet, but “preliminary consultations between members of the cabinet of ministers had taken place.”

The state minister’s statement appears to be an important message for Moscow by Ivanishvili that is signaling readiness to take into account Moscow’s interests in the region. This initiative comes from the package of “friendly gestures” that the new Georgian authorities devised to soften tensions in the relations with the neighboring country.

Lonely Planet names Georgia in Top 10 "Best Value Destinations" 2013

15.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Lonely Planet, the leading travel publisher, has named Georgia as one of  Top 10 Countries for 2013 in its annually published Lonely Planet's Best Value Destinations.  Lonely Planet draws upon the input of its staff, authors and online community for recommendations for the book, with the final list being decided upon by an in-house panel of experts. Excerpt from the book follows:
Georgia is, like its Caucasian neighbours, little known to most travellers. Those who do go come back raving about a beautiful, friendly country that offers excellent, inexpensive (though potentially waist-expanding) cuisine, typified by the near-universal khachapuri (cheese pie). In recent years the country has been speeding up its tourism development, resulting in a growing number of good-value hostels and homestays, which are great ways to meet locals as well as keep costs down. Look out for August if you’re hitting Batumi or elsewhere on the Black Sea coast, but otherwise anytime is a good time to visit this up-and-coming destination where even a bus, train or marshrustka (minibus) ride will give jaw-dropping views worth far more than the meagre fare you’re likely to be charged.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

British Airways returns to Georgia

13.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Starting from October 28th leading British airline British Airways officially launched regular London - Tbilisi service. "In winter period, the airline will offer passengers daily flights from Tbilisi to London, and from London Heathrow Airport - routes almost in all directions," the company stated.

Paolo De Renzis, BA's Middle East and Central Asia Manager, said the fact that British Airways has officially come to the Georgian market means that bmi has successfully integrated into the company. British Airways' takeover of loss-making airline bmi (formerly British Midland International) was announced earlier in 2012. Bmi was servicing Tbilisi route in the past.

The flights will be performed by Airbus A321 with interior which was completely modified. British Airways' economy class ticket price starts from 428 EUR (two-way) and for the the business class - from 1 214 EUR.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Romanovs’ royal palace in Borjomi to become museum

13.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Georgian President’s residence in Borjomi - formerly the royal Romanovs’ palace - should become a museum, suggested Metropolitan of Borjomi and Bakuriani Seraphim and MP Gedevan Popkhadze.

The palace was built in the 19th Century by famous architect Léon Benois (Leonti Benua) for the Russian Emperor. Since 2004, the palace became the residence of the Georgian President. Currently the palace belongs to the Ministry of Economy.

The idea to turn the Romanovs palace into a museum was expressed in many requests of tourist companies. At least 70% of tourists in the area are willing to visit the palace.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)