E-visa’s would boost Georgia’s tourism sector and offer hassle-free travel to foreign nationals, in light of the country’s new visa rules which had created "some difficulties” for tourists, believed Giorgi Chogovadze, head of the National Tourism Administration, which is responsible for the tourism sector development in the country.
"The date of the service launch has not yet been defined. However we have to test the traffic of the users that will be able to use the electronic travel authorization scheme,” Chogovadze told industry insiders while presenting his vision and goals for developing the country’s tourism sector.
Chogovadze was confident the government was actively working to correct current deficiencies to simplify issues relating to the new visa regulations, which came into force on September 1, 2014.
"Georgia’s gvernment would like Dubai to share its experience of how to issue residence permits to foreigners living in Georgia. In this regard Georgia’s delegation has been invited to Dubai on behalf of Dubai’s Sheikh,” Chogovadze said.
Tourists from 102 countries including Iran, Iraq, Egypt and India are required to obtain a visa before entering Georgian territory.
Chogovadze believed the new visa rules had not negatively influenced the number of visitors from Georgia’s main tourist markets but in some cases the new rules had affected visitor numbers.
Latest data revealed that from January 1 to November 30, the number of tourists from Iran decreased by 50 percent and by 45 percent from Iraq. Despite this, Iran was still on the list of top ten countries visiting Georgia.
The biggest share of non-resident visitors came from Turkey, followed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Israel, Germany, Kazakhstan and the United States of America.
The new law on "Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons" came into effect on September 1, 2014. Visa free travel with Georgia was revoked for 24 countries and citizens from 94 countries were now eligible to enter Georgia without a visa for a short stay.
Under the old rules citizens from 118 countries were able to enter Georgia without a visa and stay for a maximum of 360 days. But from September, citizens from 94 countries were allowed to enter Georgia without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period.