Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sigua: We will sell Stalin to Chinese tourists

03.10.2013 (Hvino TOUR News). According to the Head of the National Tourism Administration George Sigua,  the share of tourism in Georgia’s GDP increased  by 1%. At present, tourism’s share in total GDP is 7.3%, in 2012  the same index was 6.37%,  Mr. Sigua said, adding that the administration expects this figure to grow even more.

According to  the survey conducted by the administration in  January - July, visitors spent 1.7 billion GEL in  Georgia in 7 months, the average rate of costs per traveler is 613 GEL.

Georgia hosted over three million tourists in the first eight months this year and expects five million by the end of this year. Georgia was ranked as the top country with the fastest tourism inflow rate in Central and Eastern Europe in the six-month report of the World Tourism Organization for the year of 2013 in August.

According to the data of the 8-month statistics, the tourist inflow amounted to 3 568 518 persons that translates into 26% growth, compared to the same period last year.

“The main challenge now is an infrastructural development,” Sigua said. “Only invitation of tourists is not sufficient; it is crucial to meet them properly or we will get anti-publicity instead of promotion”.

A 24-hour call center in Georgia is already accessible for the tourists. More than that, booklets containing remarkable tourist destinations in Georgia are handed to tourists as soon as they cross borders and mobile groups playing the role of the information center, move around Georgian capital Tbilisi. Apart from the capital, information centers operate in highland tourist destinations of Kazbegi, Bakuriani and in Samegrelo region.

According to the statistical data, the biggest share of the international tourists comes to Georgia in the summer time particularly in August (this month alone attracted 770 608 international tourists this year). The biggest part of this inflow or 88% of visitors enter Georgia from neighboring countries. However, the figure dropped by 3% compared to 91% of the past year. Turkey is the top country leading the tourist inflow in Georgia; it sent 1 109 920 people this year and made up 18% of growth compared to 2012. Armenia is the runner up: 820 043 visitors came to Georgia this year; the number more than doubled compared to the past year. Azerbaijan sent 686 671 tourists making just 15% of growth. Russian and Ukrainian tourists lag behind other neighbors amounting to 515 989 and 79 542 respectively; however, the tourist inflow from these two countries showed a remarkable growth: the number of incoming Russian tourists in Georgia increased by 54% and number of Ukrainian tourists - by 69%. Tourist current increased from Poland and Iraq as well by 72% and 31% respectively. Sigua hopes to attract more Chinese tourists, who appear to be the top source of tourist market around the globe as they spent USD 102 billion on international tourism in 2012. A Chinese delegation is going to research Georgian tourist potential soon. Sigua hopes to tout Chinese tourists by Stalin, a famous Communist leader of the Soviet Union who was of Georgian origin, born and brought up in Georgia.

“Over 1.3 billion communists live in China. Its third grade school textbooks teach that Stalin is a god. We will sell Stalin as a tourist product in China very well just like Jews do not believe in Jesus Christ but use his name as a tourist product,” Sigua said.


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