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)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ski track construction continues in Mestia

Photo: Commersant
12.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Construction of skiing track in the mountain resort Mestia, started by Georgia's previous government, will continue under the new one, - said Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Minister of Economy.  The project is financed by Georgian and French sides. Under the previous government, the French side and the Ministry of Finance signed an agreement under which France should allocate 18 million EUR for mountain-skiing infrastructure development in Mestia region.

Mestia is an urban settlement in mountain region Upper Svaneti which has been the cultural and religious centre for the entire region for hundreds of years, and currently is also the centre of mountain tourism and mountaineering.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Georgian materials to appear in National Geographic Magazine next year

08.11.2012 (Hvino Tour News). More Georgian materials will appear in the Georgia's edition of National Geographic Magazine next year. Editor in chief Levan Butkhuzi informed radio Commersant that only two issues of the journal  were released in Georgia, but  sales exceeded expectations.

According to him, beginning from 2013 30% of the magazine's content will be Georgian materials. Butkhuzi explained that additional staff is necessarily, as well as funds need to be invested in next year's budget. Editor in chief  said that taking into consideration the readers' demand, current print run of the magazine -  5 000 copies -  is expected grow.

The scientific educational National Geographic Magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It was launched in USA in 1888. Today it is published in 37 countries around the world, in Georgia it has been released  last September (see: National Geographic Magazine Launches in Georgia).

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The railway to Abkhazia

09.11.2012. New Georgian state minister for reintegration Paata Zakareishvili announced intention of the authorities of the country to start a dialogue about the restoration of the railway through Abkhazia. Zakareishvili also proposed to recognize passports of citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia valid in Georgia. All of this demonstrates the strategy of the new Georgian government, which is very clear: they recognize Abkhazia not as a country, but as a reality. In this sense, the strategy is revolutionary.

"We need to promote the restoration of traffic through Abkhazia, both railways and roads. And we must avoid political hidden motives and consider the issue solely in economic way", Zakareishvili said. The new minister seems to take up the matter thoroughly, and without much regard for the critics.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

World Bank supports infrastructure in Georgia’s Imereti region

07.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). On November 6th in Washington the World Bank approved an International Development Association (IDA) loan in the amount of US$30 million to Georgia for the Second Regional Development Project. The project objective is to improve infrastructure services and institutional capacity to support the increased contribution of tourism to the local economy of the Imereti Region (for more detailed information, click here).

The project includes two components:
  • Infrastructure investments in urban regeneration of Tskaltubo and tourism circuit development;
  • Institutional development.

New Tbilisi - Odessa flight route introduced

07.11.2012  (HTN - Hvino Tour News)  Airline "UTair-Ukraine" has opened a new international airline route Odessa - Tbilisi, according to statement by Consul General of Georgia in Odessa Teimuraz Nishnianidze. Flights depart weekly on Sundays.

"Unlike previous years, the flight will will be regular weekly service on Sundays. From Odessa plane will take off at 9:00 am, and from Tbilisi at 15.05 local time," - reads the statement. The route uses modern aircraft ATR-72-500. Service on board is organized in economy class. The flight duration is approximately three hours.

Currently flights to Georgia, including Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi are carried by Ukrainian and Georgian airlines from Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Dnepropetrovsk.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

"The Wall Street Journal": The Museum as Mirror

by Melik Kaylan

06.11.2012. Like the country it embodies, indeed for the sake of that country, the Georgian National Museum is reimagining the past to carve out a durable future. The struggle for reinvention—a national obsession since the Soviet Union's demise—has if anything intensified with the Oct. 1 parliamentary elections. President Mikheil Saakashvili's staunchly pro-Western party lost control of Parliament to a free-spending oligarch sympathetic to the Kremlin, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who had made his money in Russia. Acute hostility divides the two sides, and nobody knows how much of the relentlessly modernizing president's post-Soviet orientation the new parliamentary leader will try to undo.

While most Georgians remain deeply anti-Moscow, many seem nostalgic for some vaguely imagined pre-Saakashvili era. One might call it a struggle to define the Georgian soul, and that defining is what a national museum can do most deliberately.

Georgia to invest another half million dollars into advertising in Israel

07.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) About 26,000 Israeli tourists have visited Georgia in 2012. This is 20% more than during the same period last year. Georgia recently decided to invest about half a million dollars in advertising in Israel, according to newspaper Maariv. The Israeli newspaper refers to Maia Sidamonidze, director of the National Tourism Agency of Georgia, who visited Israel last week.

During Georgia's Independence Day cerebration in Herzliya, Israel, Ambassador Archil Kekelia said that his government allocated about a million dollars to promote Georgia's tourist attractions Israel. Apparently, the amount was only enough for three months, and Tbilisi decided to increase the scale of its advertising campaign Israelis, concludes Izrus news site.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Radisson Batumi Expecting High Occupancy over New Year Celebrations

Photo: Financial
by Tako Khelaia

05.11.2012. Radisson Blu Batumi Hotel expects high occupancy during the New Year celebrations according to Mr. Torbjorn Bodin, General Manager of the hotel. As Mr. Bodin says, summer is the high season in Batumi and this is reflected in the increased number of hotel bookings during this period. “We were running at almost full hotel capacity from mid-June to mid-September with a lot of people in the Hotel, around the pools and in the restaurants,” he added.

Featuring 168 rooms the property is located at the centre of the city alongside the famous Batumi Boulevard. It is conveniently located in the main business district of Batumi. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Batumi, is designed for comfort. The bedrooms feature trendy and modern interior design and come equipped with complimentary high-speed wi-fi. The majority of the rooms offer breathtaking views over the Black Sea.

Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel has had the Best Occupancy Rate in 2012

Photo: Financial
by Tako Khelaia

05.11.2012. The year 2012 has been the best year so far in terms of occupancy according to Michael Jacobi, General Manager of Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. The Hotel has been in operation since September 2009 and its business levels have grown steadily since the opening according to Mr. Jacobi.

“A lot of business over the summer was related to the parliamentary elections on 1 October,” said Mr. Jacobi.

“October was a little bit quieter than initially forecasted which was linked to the election outcome. Several projects were on hold during the formation of the new government which affected the numbers of visitors coming to Tbilisi . We are optimistic about the rest of the year,” Jacobi said.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Finance Minister: President Saakashvili's palace may become a hotel

03.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). The Palace of Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili may become a hotel, said Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri. "The Avlabari residence may well be converted into a hotel, it's an interesting location with a good view, the historical center of Tbilisi," - said Khaduri, as quoted by Russian newspaper Vzgliad. The decision has been made already that this palace is no longer the seat of Saakashvili, - said Finance Minister of Georgia.

According Mr. Khaduri, it is "absolutely possible" to pass other presidential residences to investors as well. "Then the assignment of these residences will change," - he said the TV channel Maestro.  He said that it will not interfere with the work of  Georgia's leader.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tourism business dissatisfied with National Tourism Agency: "If tourism is not a priority for the government, it is better for the sector"

Photo: Commersant
02.11.2012. What will happen to the National Tourism Agency? Will its funding and functions be changed? The new government doesn’t have specific answers to these questions yet, but statements of the government members  make clear that "Georgian Dream" is not going to assign such an importance to tourism as the previous government.

"We, of course, will support the development of tourism, but tourism  can’t be  either the sole or the main activity because we have  more, much more richer and diverse resource," - Bidzina Ivanishvili  said in his  speech. Commersant tried to connect with the National Tourism Agency  and  find out how much the agency’s funding is and whether increase or decrease is planned or change of the agency’s functions. However, we have not received any response from the agency management.

According to the director of the travel company "Travel Tour" Siko Gegiadze, funding should be increased, but if tourism is not a priority for the new government, it is better for tourism industry development.

Balneological resort in Vejini to open in December

02.11.2012  (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The balneological resort in the village of Vejini in Gurjaani region (Eastern Georgia) will be opened in December this year, according to Chairman of Gurjaani Municipality Council Zakaria Iaganashvili.

Private investments have been attracted for the resort and more than 2 million GEL was invested in the project. Vejini balneological resort includes a 28 - room hotel, which will be also opened in December. Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili announced the complex construction in 2011.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Georgian delegation to attend London's World Travel Market 2012

01.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Georgian National Tourism Administration will participate in the World Travel Market taking place in London on November 5-8. Georgia will be represented by Georgian National Tourism Administration, private sector representatives, and Georgia's national airline company. Georgia's booth number is EM1060.

World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Almost 48,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL, London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Welcome to Hvino TOUR News!

01.11.2012. Today we are pleased to officially launch our new resource Hvino TOUR NEWS Since September - during over a month's period -  Hvino TOUR NEWS  has been fully operating, and today it is finally announced.

HTN is a "junior sister" of  Hvino News, which today has a small anniversary - 6 months of operation. The team which is behind both information projects is working to deliver quality news and information to our global readership as fast as possible. We are happy to broaden our scope by including tourism and hospitality news from Georgia, and we hope to contribute in raising global awareness about Georgia's unique offers to the world.

Enjoy reading Hvino TOUR NEWS! You may also subscribe for receiving our news by e-mail (see "Subscribe" box in the right column), or follow us via FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, or RSS.