It was clear from the engaging addresses, presentations and discussion sessions that Georgia and other countries in the region certainly have ambitions to grow their share of international air services and this country is at the forefront of developments as it seeks to maximise its geographical position and historic significance to develop a new Silk Road of air services between Europe in the west to Asia in the east.
“Although the Silk Road has been serving us for centuries there is still much to be discovered and developed in the modern era. Governments have strong supportive roles to play in facilitating accessibility and trade,” explained former banker Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the country’s Vice Prime Minister who opened the Summit.
These presentations provided an enlightening introduction to the local aviation market and the first panel session on ‘Finding the right balance – How will different airline operating models bring success to the region?’ brought the views of some of the region’s prominent airlines and airport operators together for a discussion moderated by Yuliya Crane, Senior Consultant, ASM, the world route development consultants, who highlighted Georgia as “a proactive and progressive aviation authority.”
With the UNWTO Routes Silk Road Task Force Meeting taking place at Routes Silk Road, delegates received a video message from Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO which was recorded especially for the event. He highlighted the growing importance of tourism in the global economy and described Georgia as a "leading example" of how open skies and visa facilitation can work.
These comments flowed nicely into a panel session on the subject of visa and how Governments influence tourism, which was expertly moderated by travel writer, John Bell. The session explored what the barriers to change are and how states could relax regulations and still maintain security.
“One of the impediments to tourism in this region is unduly difficult visa processes. It is amazingly important that these kinds of issues are being discussed by such prominent industry leaders at Routes events and we are thrilled with the success of this inaugural Routes Silk Road event,” commented Michael Miller, Head of Content & Industry Relations, Routes, who chaired the conference.
In addition to the Strategy Summit attendees participated in more than 800 face-to-face meetings that Routes has become synonymous future air services planning.