Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maia Sidamonidze: Talk about "the serving nation" is a mental weakness

05.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). On January 1 2013 Maia Sidamonidze resigned from her position of National Tourism Agency's head. She has been working for three years at the agency, and decided to switch to private sector. Translation of interview with former chairwoman of country's tourism department to Georgian radio Kommersant follows below:

Why did you decide to resign  from the agency? Today you will go back to the private sector, why? 

My decision to come to Georgia was correct as I worked at a very good moment in terms of tourism development in Georgia. This was one of the fastest growing sectors over the years and, of course, for me it was a great honor to be one of the partners in this process. On the other hand, I think that the private sector already offers many opportunities for self-realization in the same profession. I remain in this sector, in the tourism industry. Not necessarily people in this profession need to work only in state structures.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg: Georgia now ‘open for business’

04.01.2013  (HTN - Hvino Tour News) H.E. Gabriela von Habsburg, also known as Archduchess Gabriela of Austria, is Ambassador of Georgia to Germany since 2009. Germany's Globus Vision published an interview with Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg in January 2013. The reforms implemented in recent years, along with a privileged geographic position and a well-functioning democracy, have made Georgia a highly attractive place for doing business, she said.

Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg points out that by cutting red tape and removing obstacles to investors, Georgia has managed to enter the top ten countries in the World Bank's “Ease of Doing Business” ranking. She also touched upon the issues of  tourism, wine and agriculture. Parts of Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg's interview follow:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tourism in Ajara, Georgia: off-the-beaten-track FDI location

03.01.2013. The republic of Georgia has landed in the international media spotlight for a variety of reasons in recent years and months, from its conflict with Russia a handful of years ago to its pro-investment and development environment and advances intransparency and pro-business regulatory pushes. Georgia is also gaining popularity as an off-the-beaten track tourist destination - thanks in large part to its gastronomical prowess, which has been featured in various media outlets, including The Huffington Post citing Georgia as a top tourist and culinary destination for 2013.

In the midst of this positive attention, the Georgian region of Ajara has also made international news, thanks to Donald Trump visiting the region and expressing interest in developing a casino and hotel in Ajara's capital, Batumi. Trump's interest has created a unique opportunity for Ajara's burgeoning tourist sector. Ajara offers natural beauty, prime Black Sea coastline, a climate for year-round visitors and an historical tourist industry from the Soviet era that has continued to attract tourists from neighbouring countries.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Airzena plans to add flights in 2013

01.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Georgian national airline Airzena' general director Iase Zautashvili said that in 2013 the company plans to add new destinations.

"We look in the New Year with hope and believe that the past problems will be resolved in 2013. In addition, we offer better services to passengers. New flights are planned to be added as well, "- Zautashvili said.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Season's greetings from publisher of

Dear respected readers,

All the's team is sending our sincere greetings and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year to you!

According to ancient Georgian tradition, the New Year tree chichilaki should be burned after the New Year. Together with its smoke, all troubles will be gone. As in 2012 we have luckily avoided the end of the world, let's now enter into a brave new world without grim predictions, and with all the positive energy!

2012 was an important year for us, as we launched two daily news services: Hvino News and Hvino Tour News. They are quite successful,  gaining more readership with every month. We will be happy to further develop our service in 2013, supporting international promotion of Georgian brands.

I am lucky to celebrate this New Year in the beautiful city of Tbilisi. From here I am sending congratulations  to over 120 countries of the world, where our readers live. Thank you for reading our news, and happy New Year! 

Alexander Kaffka

Will TAV manage Tbilisi Airport in 2013?

31.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) The state will finance construction of a new runway at Tbilisi International Airport while  the government is going to start talks with TAV Georgia. According to Economy Minister Giorgi  Kvirkashvili,  TAV Georgia planned the runway construction based on attracted resources, and in return, terms of airport exploitation were  extended for another 10 years.

“Now we are working to  resolve runway strip construction issue together with TAV. The government adopted a resolution, according to which,  the state will finance the runway construction on bilateral basis, and  a contract with TAV will not be extended for another  10 years ,"- said Mr. Kvirkashvili.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Economy minister names tourism most important direction for 2013

30.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili spoke about  tourism field at the press conference in Tbilisi. He said that next year tourism would be one of the most important directions because of its great potential in terms of employment and infrastructure development.

Kvirikshvili said that the state allocated more than 5 million GEL for  tourism programs from  the budget which will be used for  regional development, creation of new tourism projects, opening of information centers  and personnel training.

"Tourism will be one of the most important areas, "- Kvirikashvili stressed.

As Chairman of the National Tourism Agency Maya Sidamonidze wrote a resignation letter on December 26, two candidates will be considered for the post of Chairman of the National Tourism Agency. As the Economy Minister  said, Maya Sidamonidze made  decision to resign herself, and there was no  pressure from the government. According to the Deputy Minister Dmitry Kumsishvili,  National Tourism Agency will get a new head in late January.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Director of National Tourism Agency leaves her post

29.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Maia Sidamonidze, director of the National Tourism Agency of Georgia,  will leave her post on January 1. Ms. Sidamonidze leaves her post at her own request. "I have been serving in this position for already three years. Now I decided to leave and to be engaged in the private sector," she told reporters on Friday. Sidamonidze was appointed head of the Tourism Agency on a competitive basis.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kobuleti Free Tourism Zone project might be revised

28.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Fati Khalvashi, Member of Parliament representing Kobuleti, will raise the issue of revision of Kobuleti Free Tourism Zone (FTZ) project in Parliament. He suggests that Kobuleti Tourism Zone covers the land of cultural significance and hotels construction in this territory is not justified. However, for three hotels which are already under construction, investors will be able to complete the projects.

According to initiative of former government, tax benefits are offered to investors in Kobuleti tourism zone, and in total 26 hotels should be built there.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tbilisi is on second place in "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013"

26.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) "So where will you plan your next foodie adventure? Here are the top seven places to eat around the world in 2013". Elyse Pasquale, food and travel writer at The Huffington Post (USA), also known for Foodie International, published her list "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013". Tbilisi is on the second place in this top list:
Tbilisi, Georgia
The Republic of Georgia is one of the world's most fascinating up-and-coming culinary destinations. The tiny country's cuisine is influenced by its geography, resulting in a remarkable combination of Middle Eastern and Eastern European flavors. In Tbilisi you'll fall in love with khachapuri, a pizza-like flatbread stuffed with molten cheese. Other traditional foods include meaty soup dumplings, cilantro-spiked red beans, thick buffalo yogurt and unleavened bread cooked over hot coals. And then there's the wine; Georgia invented it. According to oeno-historians, Georgia has the oldest recorded history of fermenting grapes to make wine, dating back to 5000 BCE. Today, an ancient technique of making wine underground in clay vessels called qvevri is being revitalized. Attend a supra, or Georgian feast, where food and wine meet traditional music.
Other cities of list "7 Places to Travel for Food in 2013" include: San Sebastian, Osaka, Lima, Kiev, Palermo, Antigua (Guatemala)

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Detecting Georgian tourism's bottlenecks

By Giorgi Mekerishvili

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of UN (T&T CI) ranked Georgia 73, in 2011. With this rank, Georgia topped South Caucasus region nevertheless, maintaining the same rank as in 2009. This could mean that not much had improved during those three years in terms of competitiveness of Georgia as a brand in the business of tourism.

Looking at the data on international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts – they both have been steadily increasing since 2000.

From the first glance this upward trend seems promising. We have more tourists and more receipts. So, what is the problem?

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Hilton" hotel opening under question

24.12.2012. The opening of "Hilton" brand hotel in Tbilisi is in doubt. The American brand’s official partner in Georgia David Kodua  said that refugees are still staying in “Sakartvelo” hotel where "Hilton" should open. According to Kodua, the deadline for completion of the project is until the end 2013, so if the refugees do not leave the building in time, the project could not be implemented.

The businessman is going to hold a meeting with Minister of Refugees and Resettlement in the coming days and expects the ministry to satisfy the refugees with alternative spaces. David Kodua took a loan for the project from "TBC Bank" and has a 22-year license for "Hilton" hotel functioning in Georgia.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saakashvili rates high Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project

23.12.2012. Mikheil Saakashvili thinks the continuation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is very important for the country’s euro-integration course.Georgia’s president wrote about it on his Facebook wall. He made the statement after Prime Minister's Bidzina Ivanishvili’s interview where he said the project raises a number of questions. Saakashvili said the intention of the PM is agreed with relations with Russia.

The president demanded that such issues be put for public discussion. In the interview Georgia’s PM stated that there are a number of issues connected with the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Ivanishvili said he will raise the issue during his visit to Azerbaijan. “I will sensitively explain to our neighbors that in a certain phase the project may not be beneficial for us,” he said.


Friday, December 21, 2012

"New York Times": Georgia: A Stalinist Restoration

21.12.2012. A municipal assembly in Gori on Thursday voted to restore a monument of Stalin, the Soviet leader who died in 1953. It was a rebuke to President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has tried to clear Georgia of all vestiges of Soviet symbolism. A monument of Stalin stood for 48 years in the central square in Gori, his birthplace, until June 2010, when the authorities removed it. Mr. Saakashvili’s party was defeated in October by an opposition coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili. Some members of Mr. Ivanishvili’s coalition promised to restore monuments to Stalin in Gori and other cities. Zviad Khmaladze, the leader of Gori’s district assembly, said that $15,000 would be allocated to set up the monument near the small house where Stalin was born.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Airzena to resume flights to Kiev

20.12.2012. Georgian airline Airzena resumed flights to Kiev. The airline will perform flights to this Ukraine's destination on new "Boeing 737" aircraft, which Airzena recently purchased. The airline will perform flights to Kiev four times a week : Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The cost of ticket Kiev - Tbilisi starts from 99 Euro, and the lower rate is a part of the New Year special offer.

According to company's decision, the passengers can carry additional 10 kg, apart from 20 kg of free baggage. Due to tourist season, Kiev - Tbilisi passengers can carry travel accessories (for skiing) free of charge.

British Airways names Tbilisi in "Top 13 Destinations to visit in 2013"

20.12.2012. (HTN - Hvino Tour News) According to British Airlines press release, Tbilisi is named as one of "Top 13 Destinations to visit in 2013" for tourists and business passengers. Tbilisi  is in company with other warm-weather destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, and San Diego, California.

Paolo De Renzis, Area Commercial Manager Middle East and Central Asia, said the list for 2013 is a mix of new destinations and popular favourites. "This list shows that while travelers are eager to visit well-established destinations such as Las Vegas and Dubai, they are also looking for something off the beaten path. Tbilisi sights reflect our passengers' expectations today and that's why Tbilisi got into the list of 13 most requested routes in 2013. The city’s oldest part and the newly discovered tombs, sulfur baths, the best Georgian food and folklore are "must-see"  for world travelers".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Touristic destination or trade corridor?

by Eric Livny

19.12.2012. For more than four years (since November 2008) there has been no downward pressure on the Georgian currency. In fact, at least until June 2012, the Lari has been gaining in real value against the major global currencies. While running large and increasing trade deficits ($4.5bln in the first 10 months of 2012, compared to $3.9 bln in 2011) Georgia was able to meet importers’ demand for foreign currency through a combination of borrowing abroad, direct budget support and grants provided by the international community, foreign direct investment (FDI), a steady flow of remittances from Georgian workers abroad, and last but not least, income from tourism. While FDI levels have never recovered to their pre-August 2008 levels, the latter two sources, remittances and income from tourism, have been particularly important given their size and relative stability over time.
The efforts to develop Georgia as a major touristic destination in recent years seem to have paid off. The number of international arrivals to Georgia has been growing rapidly, reaching 2,822,363 in 2011. In the first 11 months of 2012, the number of visitors exceeded 4mln, which is 58% more than in the same period of 2011.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

President visited Georgia's corner at Christmas market in Strasbourg

18.12.2012 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili visited Christmas Market in Strasbourg, France, where Georgia is represented for the first time this year. President said that Georgia had the best chance nowadays to get closer to the European Union and in 2013, the country may have free trade and visa free regime with the EU member states.

Georgia has presented Georgian products, wine, souvenirs. Visitors can taste Georgian dishes and attend performances of Georgian dance and vocal bands and other cultural events. Within the Georgian week, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili will give a concert. Presentation of Georgian movies are also planned. Read also: Georgia is the guest country at Strasbourg Christmas Market.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)