Monday, January 28, 2013

1,5 million hotel project in Borjomi halted

28.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) According to Georgian radio Commersant one and a half million investment project in Borjomi has been stopped. Tourism information center in Borjomi explained that the construction of the "Rooms Borjomi" hotel located in  Borjomi Park has been stopped. Financial problems are named  the main reason. According to the information center, the deadline of  the project completion expires  in May. Five more hotels are being built in the town of Borjomi, making a total value of 20 million 350 thousand GEL. Investment projects should  be completed in May of the current year.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Guardian's Jessica Hynes: Tbilisi or bust

by Jessica Hynes

27.01.2013. The last time I travelled with my sister Zoe was a trip to Turkey 17 years ago. She beat all the men off the backgammon table, I tried to hire a moped without a licence and nearly crashed it, and my mother got so badly sunburned she had to stay in her hotel room. This trip was infinitely more sophisticated – not, as you might think, because we are old bags, but because Tbilisi is heaven on Earth. Not just because you can still smoke, or because the food you eat in every restaurant is fresh, seasonal and unlike anything you've ever eaten, or because you can drink usakhelauri, a wonderful light semi-sweet red wine (I am cradling a bottle to open on my sister's birthday). But also because, despite relentless onslaughts over centuries from unfriendly neighbours, the Georgian culture and spirit remain undimmed.

Georgian hospitality centers around wine and food

by Sharon Parsons

27.01.2013. Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, is rich in tradition. Georgian food and wine are best observed at a Georgian feast, or supra (a traditional banquet feast). In fact, it is hard to find the words to describe the experience. Part of the Georgian tradition is to have a toastmaster at such gatherings. Usually a toast is accompanied by a song or verse. While in Georgia we experienced a number of Georgian feasts that involved food and wine.

Georgian hospitality was super hot on a cold mid-November day when we arrived at Shumi Wine Company, Tsinandali in the Telavi region of Georgia. My primary goal for going to the Republic of Georgia was to better understanding what is involved in qvevri wine making. However, what I discovered first hand in Georgia was not only qvevri wine making but also a rich tradition centered on wine and food. Georgians truly know how to celebrate with wine and food. During a recent #EWBC post-conference trip to Georgia sponsored by the Georgian Wine Association, Spaswinefood experienced Georgian hospitality at its best.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Construction of Poti airport under question

24.01.2013. Whether the construction of the largest airport in the South Caucasus will be continued, is still unknown. Chief legal adviser to "Rakia Georgia" says that the construction  is still suspended. According to Zurab  Neparidze, so far "Rakia" has maintained the Poti airport project. However, whether it will be resumed or on whom this fact depends, is unknown.

Poti's majoritarian MP Eka Beselia made a statement regarding  the construction of Poti airport in radio  Commersant air ​​before the elections. President Mikheil Saakashvili  voiced the  initiative on Poti  international airport construction, which was supposed to be the largest in Transcaucasia in 2009, and said that construction had to  be finished in 2012. However, environmental protection NGOs protest against the construction of the airport near Kolkheti National Park and think that this construction will cause environmental problems.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Argo Complex" to be opened in Batumi in April

22.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Batumi's "Argo" Multifunctional Complex will be opened in April, according to director Giorgi Kavzharadze.

Argo's director says that as the complex is being built at the Batumi hill it will be connected to the city via an Austrian made rope-way often referred to as "Batumi funicular". At first stage 8 gondolas will be installed. The setup is meant for 21 gondolas.

Kavzharadze notes the complex will have 5 floors, and first two floors will be technical, while cafes and exhibition halls will be located on the remaining floors. He says that the investment required for the project exceeded 40 million and were allocated by a British company. Argo Multifunctional Entertainment Complex was designed by British architect in the ship shape.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, January 21, 2013

7 Highlights of Georgia

21.01.2013. From the fertile wine region of Kakheti—full of beautiful churches, monasteries and wineries—to the ancient villages of mountainous Svaneti, Georgia is a land of unparalleled natural beauty, with a long, fascinating and largely under-appreciated history. A small and obscure nation located at the eastern end of the Black Sea, wedged between Russia and Turkey, Georgia has been given little attention by Western travelers, and many treasures await those willing to make the journey.
A few facts you might not know to stir your interest in this tiny Caucus nation:
  • Georgia is the oldest wine-producing nation in the world, with 521 original varieties of grape and production dating back to 7000-5000 BC.
  • Georgia’s many languages are unrelated to the Indo-European or Semitic languages of the surrounding region.
  • Georgia is home to some of the most ancient churches in Christendom (it was the second nation to adopt Christianity, after Armenia).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Airzena" to return status of national airline

20.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) According to  Iase Zautashvili, director of  Airzena Georgian Airways,  the company is working to return the status of Georgia's national airline. Mr. Zautashvili says that communication has already begun with the Department of Aviation and Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. As Iase Zautashvili noted,  a few years ago Airzena has about 60% market share, however, today it controls only 8-9%.

Airzena Georgian Airways is a privately owned airline operating services from Georgia to destinations mainly in Europe and Western Asia. Its main base is Tbilisi International Airport. The airline was established and started operations in September of 1994. Airzena merged with Air Georgia in November of 1999 to form Airzena Georgian Airlines.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Georgia's Prime Minister: Abkhazian railway is back on agenda

18.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). The Abkhazia-Georgia-Armenia railway may be re-opened, and much more is possible because Armenia and Georgia have no problems in their relations, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated at a news conference in Yerevan.

Georgia has no problems with Armenia, it still has problems with Russia, he added. “We had – and still have - very serious problems with Russia. But we hope and we are doing our best to restore our relations with Russia as soon as possible. However, the controversial issues of territorial integrity will not allow us to resolve them soon,” Mr Ivanishvili said. The re-opening of the railway should be viewed in this context, he added.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rehabilitation of Dartlo and Omalo to be carried out

17.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Dartlo and  Omalo rehabilitation will continue under  the new government and, according to the schedule, will be completed in due time. The rehabilitation will be resumed in May, 2013, according to Akhmeta's  Deputy Governor Vazha Naskidashvili. He says that the work has stopped at this time because of heavy snow, and the project will  be resumed in  May. In his words, more tourists are expected to visit the region  taking into consideration the fact that Dartlo and Omalo rehabilitation  will be completed in late October and additional several guesthouses will be  opened in  tourist areas.

Omalo and Dartlo are historical villages in mountain region of Tusheti. In total, 6 million GEL  has been allocated for  their rehabilitation. Dartlo and  Omalo rehabilitation includes restoration of historical towers.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal's Index of Economic Freedom: "Georgia showed the most improvement in 2013"

15.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). A joint study 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, published yesterday by the Washington think-tank The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, places Georgia at high position.

"There are five European countries whose economic freedom status has changed notably in the 2013 Index. Georgia, Norway, and the Czech Republic have become “mostly free” economies. Georgia achieved the largest score improvement in the 2013 Index", - outlines the research paper.

"Georgia’s economic freedom score is 72.2, making its economy the 21st freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score is 2.8 points higher than last year, with improvements in six of the 10 economic freedoms including management of public finance, investment freedom, and property rights. Georgia is ranked 11th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its score is the most improved in the 2013 Index.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"The Moscow Times": Conquering the world with wine and food

by Paul Rimple

13.01.2013. In August 2008, I was sitting on a curb in the Georgian village of Akhalgori with journalist Wendell Steavenson watching Ossetian troops loot stores and homes. "This whole thing is crazy," she said. "All Georgia had to do was invite Russia to the dinner table. They would have conquered it with food and wine."

She, like many foreigners who have spent any time in the country, is intimately familiar with Georgia's most formidable weapon. It's not the "strategic partnership" that brings all those Washington lawmakers to Georgia. It's the food.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Georgia's Civil Aviation Union calls on government to revise strategy

12.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Chairperson of the Civil Aviation Union Giorgi Kodua says the 90% of aviation sector is monopolized, which causes expensive cost on flights. Giorgi Kodua has defined at the briefing today that the additional tax collections imposed for national air transporter companies has resulted in the rise of prices on flights. Kodua calls on the government to revise the aviation strategy, otherwise, he fairs the current system will affect development of tourism in the country.

`Business sector, which had to pay millions to the state budget as additional tax collection, has included this part of the tariff in ticket costs. Development of air-sector depends on chief tariffs and direct flights, but during past few years the only development we had was night flights, transit flight and high cost of tickets. Therefore, it is natural that the development of tourism sector may be affected,` Kodua said.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Georgia restores one more monument of Stalin

11.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). The bust of Joseph Stalin has been restored in the village of  Akura, Telavi District of the Kakheti Region, in the eastern part of Georgia. The monument was secretly taken down in 2010 and stored by local resident Badri Gogiashvili. Recently local authorities permitted to restore the monument.

It is the second monument of Stalin restored in Georgia after the parliamentary elections won by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on October 1, 2012. The first monument of Stalin was restored in Zemo Alvani in the Ahmeta District. The monument is to be be erected in Gori through private donations of locals. Read more: "New York Times": Georgia: A Stalinist Restoration.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Georgian government suspends deal with TAV on Tbilisi Airport

10.01.2013. The Georgian government has suspended a memorandum with a Turkish operator of the Tbilisi International Airport on reconstruction of now unused runway, which means that the Turkish company will no longer get extension for more than ten years of its right to run the airport till late 2037.

In August, 2012 Georgia’s previous government signed memorandum with TAV Airports Holding, which owns 76% shares in Tbilisi airport operator TAV Urban Georgia, under which the airport operator company was planning to invest USD 65 million in reconstruction of the unused runway, one of the two runways at the Tbilisi airport. In exchange TAV received extension of airport’s operational right from February 2027 to November 2037.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

07.01.2013. Today Georgia and other Orthodox Christian nations celebrate Christmas, which is official holiday in Georgia. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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.