The number of Russian tourists in Georgia during the same period of 2011/2012 was 119,053.
“41% of Russian residents come to Georgia to visit friends and family,” Rusudan Mamatsashvili, Head of the Planning and Development Department at Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), told The Financial. “Leisure and recreation is the main purpose of foreign nationals when visiting Tbilisi . Thirty-two percent of Russians visited Georgia for leisure and recreation while 5% travelled for business,” Mamatsashvili said.
To restore relations with Georgia’s northern neighbour was one of the main promises made by Bidzina Ivanishvili, currently holding the seat of Prime Minister. Russia has taken steps to resume the import of Georgian-produced wine and mineral water, originally banned by Russia in 2006.
Some think Mr. Ivanishvili has struggled to meet the expectations that swept him to power in October, ending the nine-year political dominance of President Mikheil Saakashvili and his party. Many voters expected his election to be followed by immediate financial relief and a turnaround in relations with Russia.
Leading Georgian hotels, Radisson Blu Iveria and Tbilisi Marriott Hotel have, however, seen an increase in guests of Russian origin.
“The number of Russian guests at our hotel has doubled since October 2012 in comparison with the previous year,” said Nina Asatiani, Director of Sales and Marketing at Radisson Blu Iveria. “The total number of Russian guests at the Hotel in 2012 was 5,857. During the whole year the Hotel hosted the largest number of Russians in October, when their number reached 869,” said Asatiani.
Russians are the second largest group of foreign nationals among the guests of Radisson Blu Iveria. American guests make up around 19%, taking first place.
“The number of Russian guests increased by 12% from October 2012 compared with the same period of last year. The majority of our guests visit the country for business,” said Alexander Kvaratskhelia, Cluster Director of Sales and Marketing at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel.
The leading guest nationalities by numbers at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel are US, British, Russian, German, Ukrainian , Azerbaijani and Armenian. Tbilisi Marriott Hotel has 127 rooms, while Courtyard by Marriott has 118.
According to GNTA, more than half of Russian travellers - 52% - visited the homes of friends or relatives while in the country. Almost a quarter - 23% - stayed in private accommodation. As for hotels and guest houses, 14% and 5% of Russian visitors respectively stayed there. It should be noted that in comparison with the nationals of other countries, Russian travellers rarely stay in paid accommodation while in Georgia.
According to research conducted by GNTA from May 2011 - April 2012, the average duration of stay of Russian tourists in Georgia is 26 days. This figure is high compared to other countries. A significant share of visitors - 16% - visit Georgia for just a single day. About one fifth - 21% - remain in the country for more than a month. Russian residents spend on average GEL 790 during visits to Georgia.
Forty-two percent of Russian travellers used air travel as the mode of transport to reach the country, out of which 12% used Georgian air companies and 30% - foreign. About one fifth - 19% - travelled by car.
The majority of Russian residents - 54% - travelled to Georgia alone. Approximately 34% visited the country with other family members. Just 10% arrived in Georgia with friends.
The number of Russians who had organized their trip themselves was 72%, 15% of trips were arranged by friends/relatives, and just 4% were organized by companies or people’s places of work.
Tbilisi with 67% and Batumi with 40% are the most popular destinations for Russians in Georgia. Other popular destinations within Georgia include Mtskheta - 9%, Kutaisi - 8% and Kobuleti - 6%.
The Russian websites www.kommersant.ru/money and finam.ru ran online surveys on their respective sites asking readers to vote on whether they would like to visit Georgia. From 30 January to 7 February a total of 3,672 visitors voted on the kommersant website. 56.94% said that they would like to visit Georgia while 43.06% said that they would not.
The website www.finam.ru ran a survey with the same question. In total 1,554 of the webpage’s visitors voted. Out of them 31.21% confirmed that they would want to visit Georgia while the majority of voters - 68.79% - said ‘no’.
From October to December 2012, 62 Russian companies were registered in Georgia. The number for the same period of the previous year was 48. Against the background of a significantly increased number of registered Russian companies the total number of new businesses in Georgia has dropped since the 1 October elections. The amount of registered companies from October till January 2012 was 10,001, while for the year before it was 14,071. This statistical data was provided by the National Agency of the Public Registry.
The total number of companies registered in Georgia in 2012 was 43,934 while in 2011 it was 54,081.