Friday, November 30, 2012

Number of foreign tourists in Adjara grew by 78 percent

30.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). In January-October 2012 number of foreign visitors in Adjara was 719,196 - an increase by 78% over the same period last year, according to the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Adjara.

In total 2012 Adjara received 1,452,204 visitors in January-October 2012. This is an increase by 28% over 2011. As compared to 2010, the increase is by 63%.

Majority of foreign visitors came from Turkey (20% of all visitors), Armenia (14% of foreign visitors,  7% of all visitors),  Iran (9.9% of the foreign visitors, 4.9% of all visitors)  and Azerbaijan (8.3% of the foreign visitors, 4.1% of all visitors).

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

EBRD to finance Novotel hotel construction in Tbilisi

Lasha Papashvili. Photo: Commersant
29.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a senior loan to finance the construction and operation of a 4-star hotel in Tbilisi.

EBRD will allocate 18.66 million for the hotel project, while the total cost of project cost is 31.1 million. The co-sponsors are Georgian businessman Lasha Papashvili and "Georgian Real Estate Holding". Recipient of EBRD's loan is "64 Chavchavadze LLC", which is a limited liability company incorporated in Georgia, whose ultimate beneficiaries are Mr. Lasha Papashvili and Mr. Sulkhan Papashvili.

Hotel "Redix" would be run under the Novotel brand by the hotel operator Accor. The project site is located on Chavchavadze Avenue, close to the city centre and major corporate demand generators, and would feature 160 rooms, 1900 square meters of retail space and approximately 70 underground parking units.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

New Georgian economic minister counts on trade with Russia

Photo: Ministry of Economy
By Margarita Antidze

29.11.2012. Georgia's new economic minister says his country, beset by high unemployment and low per capita output, wants double-digit growth rates in two or three years through the injection of pro-business policies.

It is also striving to restore trade tries with neighbouring Russia, severed after a 2008 conflict, Georgy Kvirikashvili told Reuters in an interview on Monday. If Georgia were to mend economic ties with Russia, it might be able to rebuild bilateral trade, which has slumped to just 5 percent of total trade after peaking at 20 percent in 2006. That was before a Kremlin crackdown on imports of Georgian wine and mineral water.

Growth would come from Georgia's measures to boost midsize businesses, dismantle state monopolies, develop the stock exchange and attract foreign investors, Kvirikashvili said. But not yet. He forecast growth of 7 percent both this year and in 2013.

Iran and Georgia to expand cultural and tourism ties

29.11.2012. Tehran's Ambassador to Tbilisi Majid Saber and Georgian Minister of Culture and Monument Protection Guram Odisharia on Tuesday underlined the necessity for the further expansion of cultural relations between the two countries.

During the meeting also attended by Iran's Cultural Attaché in Georgia Ehsan Khazayee, the Georgian minister described cultural interactions between the two countries as an irrefutable feature of their relations, and said his ministry is prepared to improve this cooperation.

"There have been remarkable cultural activities and measures between Iran and Georgia," he said, and added, "the more these activities are expanded, the more assured the friendship between the two nations will be."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Travel Weekly": Georgia rises

Photo: Travel Weekly / Godwin
28.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Today the leading US national newspaper of travel industry Travel Weekly published a fundamental article on Georgian tourism and wine tradition. Several excerpts from the article "Georgia rises" by Nadine Godwin follow:

When I passed through immigration at Georgia’s Tbilisi Airport, an agent quickly stamped my passport, then handed me a box.

Never before had I received a gift at an immigration checkpoint. The small bottle of red wine came with a message that said in part: “We warmly welcome you to Georgia, the country that gave wine to the world.” All arriving foreign-passport holders were gifted at entry in Tbilisi, a gesture that left no doubt about the country’s desire to please foreign visitors.

Georgia already is realizing some of its potential for wine tourism, with vintners in Kakheti, the country’s top winemaking region, offering tours and tastings.

Railway via Abkhazia: question is closed

Photo: Newsgeorgia
28.11.2012. According to Paata Zakareishvili, State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia, the Abkhaz railway topic is closed. He said that in reply to a journalist’s question, Commersant reported.

"The railway topic was closed after  the Abkhaz side didn't express an interest. On the contrary, they said that they were not interested in this issue. In my opinion, this issue should be interesting for the Abkhaz side,"- Paata Zakareishvili said, adding that the matter was finished.

The State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia Paata Zakareishvili discussed the initiative of resumption of the railway links with Russian via Abkhazia several weeks ago. The de facto Abkhaz government met negatively this proposal while the Russian side's position on this issue is not yet known. Armenia has expressed interest in restoration the Abkhaz section of the Georgian railway. The Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan said that it was very important for Armenia to have the opportunity to make use of this infrastructure, because it is the most inexpensive way for transportation from Russia.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rasmussen to invest in Georgia's tourism sector

27.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Michael Rasmussen, cousin of NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen, plans to invest in Georgia. According to Georgian magazine Kviris Palitra, Mr. Rasmussen said:

"Saakashvili’s government did nothing for the people’s well being. That’s why it was impossible to collaborate with Georgia. After the changes that took place in October, I can talk about large scale investments and business projects in Georgia. We plan to carry out projects in the oil business and developing the tourist industry, as well as energy and agriculture".

Michael Rasmussen is a businessman who runs businesses in various countries and now he has a large scale business project for Georgia.

“I became interested in Georgia after the parliamentary elections. My company is interested in carrying out large tourism projects and projects within the agricultural sector. Projects like that are successfully run in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Senegal. I think we will reach success in Georgia as well,” he says.

Monday, November 26, 2012

From Georgia with love

Photo:  Spaswinefood
26.11.2012. Sharon Parsons, an American journalist,  has published today a detailed account of recent tour of wine bloggers to Georgia, in the framework of EWBC conference in Turkey (read more here). Here are excerpts from Parsons' blog post:

Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, is rich in tradition. However, it is not every day that you get an opportunity to experience the rich wine and food traditions of a unique wine producing country, like Georgia.  During a recent EWBC post-conference trip to Georgia Spaswinefood had the opportunity to experience first hand the wonderful Georgian hospitality centered around wine making and cuisine.

Our first stop in Tbilisi was the Georgian National Museum where we toured the museum. One of the  visit for me was seeing a display of historical qvevris. Throughout our visit to Georgia we saw how qvevris are used in today's wine production.

Reverse side of Georgian tourism

Photo: Georgia Times
by Vladimir Tshvediani

26.11.2012. The current economic crisis in Europe has once again proved that tourism is not a universal recipe for economic prosperity. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus are the countries with a first-class tourist infrastructure. They are now visited by many guests. But it does not save them from the mass unemployment and crisis worsening by leaps and bounds. And the weightier is the tourist component of the economy, the more problems the country has.

This situation is not accidental. Hypertrophic tourism development suppresses many other areas of the economy. In places "tourist boom" the land and real estate prices instantly increase. Their prices can be quite acceptable to foreign investors, but they are too high for the locals.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Georgia is the guest country at Strasbourg Christmas Market

24.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) This year Georgia is the guest country of Strasbourg Christmas Market, which opens on November 24 in France. Founded in 1570, Strasbourg Christmas Market is the world's most famous one thanks to its size and location in the capital of Europe. This year, as Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg welcomes Georgia. Georgia's Minister of Culture Guram Odisharia will attend the opening  ceremony.

Georgia will set up Georgian Christmas Village on Place Gutenberg, in the city centre, where all the regions of Georgia will be represented, as well as Georgian products, traditional dishes and clothing. Georgian Christmas Village will be open from 24th November to 23rd December.

A programme of cultural and artistic events gives the opportunity to immerse in Georgian customs through traditional songs, folk dances and activities for children. The programme will include performance of Georgia National Ballet (Place Kléber), Exhibition on Georgia (parc de l'Étoile), and Georgian Film Festival (Odyssée Cinema, 3 rue des Francs Bourgeois).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Georgian government will support tourism sector

Photo: Ministry of Economy
21.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Dmitry Kumsishvili, First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia,  met with representatives of private companies operating in tourism sector. The meeting was attended by representatives of several dozen companies.

Mr. Kumsishvili stressed that tourism is one of main priorities of the new government and informed the company representatives about the government's action plan in tourism sector for the next year.

The Deputy Minister answered questions, including those related to the prospects of the tourism infrastructure development and the continuation of current projects. Mr. Kumsishvili said projects will continue, but they will be re-examined in terms of cost-efficiency.  The authorities plan to actively cooperate with the tourism sector in all areas. The Deputy Minister also informed about the initiative to create Advisory Council as a body to discuss situation in tourism sector and to adopt recommendations.

Previously, after the change of cabinet, some tourism business leaders expressed concerns about state policy in this important area (see: Tourism business dissatisfied with National Tourism Agency: "If tourism is not a priority for the government, it is better for the sector).

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tbilisi Marriott to celebrate 10th anniversary

Photo: Financial
18.11.2012. On 27 November Tbilisi Marriott Hotel will be celebrating its tenth anniversary. During this time Marriott in Tbilisi has contributed to tourism development in Georgia, brought the highest standards within the hospitality industry to the country and showed the world that Marriott can succeed in Georgia.

“Marriott was entering into an unfamiliar environment when it arrived in Georgia,” George Togonidze, General Manager of the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi, told The Financial. It was the first Marriott hotel not just in Georgia, but in the whole Caucasus region. It was at a time when global awareness of Georgia was still very low. But nevertheless the Marriott brand was here. I have personally met lots of tourists who back then knew very little about Georgia, but knew much more about Marriott. The Marriott brand is associated with the highest standards within the hospitality industry, therefore those people who know Marriott, perceive the country in which the brand operates as politically and economically stable. I must take this opportunity to convey my gratitude to our every associate at both hotels, who helped create such an environment that guests named Tbilisi Marriott and Courtyard Tbilisi as some of the very best Marriott hotels in Europe. People leave our hotels with a good impression and with the desire to return to Tbilisi,” he added.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Georgian delegation to attend EIBTM 2012 in Barcelona

18.11.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Georgian National Tourism Administration is participating in EIBTM 2012 (Exhibition for the Incentive Business Travel and Meetings) in Barcelona on November 27-29.

EIBTM is the leading global event for the meetings, incentives, events and business travel industry.Georgian National Tourism Administration will be presented at EIBTM 2012 with national private sector representatives. Georgia's booth number is J800.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

"Financial Times" on Georgian tourism

Photo FT / Marc McCrum
17.11. 2012   (HTN - Hvino Tour News). British newspaper "Financial Times" in its yesterday's edition published a large article on tourism in Georgia.

In accordance with FT's copyright requirements, we repost only a small article's fragment.

...Two days later, we were at the southeastern edge of the country, to spend our last days in Kakheti, the sunny district famed for its wines, not least because Georgia is the birthplace of viticulture. Containing skin and stem as well as fruit, Georgian wine has an earthier taste than most European wines but it soon grew on me.

“I think you have seen enough churches,” Soso laughed, as we opted to spend the afternoon sampling vintages in the lovely “English garden” of the manor house once owned by Alexander Chavchavadze, godson of Catherine the Great.

We spent the night in Signaghi, a hilltop town so pretty it bordered on twee. With its cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs and touristy signs, this was Mestia as it will be. Our landlady had Georgian wine in bottles, but Soso insisted that we try the local stuff, which came in a two-litre plastic container siphoned from a vat. Cloudy, fruity and slightly bitter, it was more like scrumpy than wine...

Full text of article by Mark McCrum entitled "Higher purpose" can be found on FT's website.

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)