Monday, February 25, 2013

Bank of Georgia Research: Georgia's Tourism Sector - Seize the Opportunity

25.02.2012. Before heading off on adventure, prospective travelers typically search the web for the top things to do in a given country. Less than a decade ago, many travelers would have been impressed by Georgia's long history and rich culture but turned off by poor infrastructure and services. Georgia has since drastically improved accessibility and services, as well as the safety of attractions. Tourism is not a new concept for Georgia, rather a recollection of what it once was. During the Soviet period in late 80s, the country of then just 5.3mn (official statistics estimates current population at 4.5mn) hosted over 3mn visitors annually, including 250,000 from outside the USSR. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing unrest brought Georgia's tourism to a standstill and the number of visitors slipped to around 383,000 in 1999, with most coming from the CIS.

Since then, Georgia posted an impressive 22% CAGR in visitors over 2000-2012. The Lonely Planet travel guide recently named Georgia one of its top-10 Best Value Destinations for 2013 (details here). As the world steadily rediscovers Georgia as a real tourist destination, we believe the hospitality sector holds attractive investment opportunities. This is especially true for accommodation as the segment is already starting to see a shortage.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Georgia to sponsor wine tourism conference in Zagreb

21.02.2013 (Hvino TOUR News). Georgia will participate in 5th International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC). The event will take place on 15 - 17 March in Zagreb, Croatia.

Dimitri Kumsishvili, First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, said that the event will be attended by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and the National Tourism Administration. Georgia's National Wine Agency and National Tourism Administration are the gold sponsors of Zagreb's conference.  Next year the conference will take place in Georgia, according to Mr. Kumsishvili.

Report "Wine Tourism Destination Georgia" will be presented by John Wurdeman, owner of Pheasant's Tears winery.

Georgian wine tasting will be held during the conference, scheduled for March 16. Represented wines will include Kondoli Vineyards Rkatsiteli 2009, Qvevri Traditional Kakhetian, Kisi & Chateau Mukhrani Reserve Du Prince 2007 Saperavi.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tourism Advisory Council is set up to develop recommendations

20.02. 2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) is created in Georgia. According to the National Tourism Administration, the Council is created upon the initiative of  private sector representatives operating in tourism industry. They explain that the goal of the Advisory Council is to discuss the global issues in tourism industry. In addition, the Council will develop recommendations aimed at the right direction establishment and their implementation for tourism development.

The First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Dimitry Kumsishvili and directors of Georgian National Tourism Agency and tourism associations signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the 20th of February on the basis of which Tourism Advisory council was set up for the first time in Georgia, according to official release of Ministry.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Flow of Russian Tourists to Georgia

18.02.2013. From September 2012 till February 2013 the number of Russian tourists in Georgia increased by 72% compared to the same period of the year before. During the past five months Georgia has hosted 204,495 Russian visitors, of which almost half are friends and relatives of Georgian residents.

The number of Russian tourists in Georgia during the same period of 2011/2012 was 119,053.

“41% of Russian residents come to Georgia to visit friends and family,” Rusudan Mamatsashvili, Head of the Planning and Development Department at Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), told The Financial. “Leisure and recreation is the main purpose of foreign nationals when visiting Tbilisi . Thirty-two percent of Russians visited Georgia for leisure and recreation while 5% travelled for business,” Mamatsashvili said.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tourism? What tourism? - Svaneti

by Tony Hanmer

17.02.2013. I was in Mestia a week ago, and stopped in at the Tourism Centre in Seti Square. They’re usually a good source for recent copies of Georgia Today.

But the latest copies now are from December 2012 – itself a bad sign. And the tourism numbers are far, far down from this time a year ago. If anyone should know, it’s the people in this place. But so says everyone else I’ve asked – owners of a couple of guest houses in the town, my neighbour who was skiing at Hatsvali recently, and others. One of the December 2011 copies of GT which I have even projects a much more optimistic figure for current tourists – about 60,000 expected for 2013.

So, what’s happening? People say that Ivanishvili has declared that Georgia doesn’t need as many tourists as it has been getting recently. Is this a true quote? I turned to Google for an answer, and this is what I found: nothing – in English, anyway – to support this claim.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

RyanAir plans to enter Georgia

05.02. 2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Irish company RyanAir, one of Europe’s lowest cost airlines, still considers an opportunity to enter Georgia. One of the founders of the company said at  London conference that RyanAir considered Israel and Georgia as potential markets.

Michael Kors names reasons, which may lead to their interest in Georgia. "This is a country with a very liberal economy,  and Hungarian WizzAir has already flied there,” - he noted.

Earlier, president Mikheil Saakashvili also expressed wish to bring the Irish airline to Georgia.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tourism companies talk about withdrawal of state support

30.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) Tourism companies note lack of activity of Georgia's tourism authorities. GeoHotel, a company that runs a 3 – star hotel chain across the country stated to radio Commersant that GeoHotel has had almost no visitors since January 8. Shalva  Alaverdashvili notes that there is a lack of visitors  in  Gudauri, because unlike last year, there is no support from the state.

He explains that Mestia as a winter tourism destination no longer exists and they are going to stop a hotel functioning  in Mestia. Alaverdashvili says that tourism development will  be stopped without state support and advertisement of various resorts which signs have already existed. According to him, they applied to  Ministry of Economy in order to  develop hotels and projects in regions, however, received a reply from the Deputy Minister that the companies working in regions lacked the education and experience.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

British Airways leaves Georgia

29.01.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News) According to the Tbilisi office of the company, the last flight on the route Tbilisi-London will be operated on March 29, and starting March 31, the airline officially ceases operations in Georgia. The decision to leave Georgia was made by the British Airways for commercial reasons. The airline states that Tbilisi-London and London-Tbilisi flights are unprofitable.

British Airways returned to Georgia after a hiatus in 2012.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Guria airport construction suspended

29.01.2013. Work on the project has been suspended. As Ozurgeti Economy, Infrastructure and Investment Environment Department  Chief Merab Tsivtsivadze explains, last August Turkish and Arab specialists arrived in Georgia and conducted  survey works, but since then not a single investor or any other person interested in Gurian airport has visited  the village of Meria.

"Working on the project was started, but this time the work is officially suspended,”- Tsivtsivadze notes.

President Mikheil Saakashvili said about the need to build the airport in the village of Meria. " In September a large international airport will be opened in Kutaisi. We must begin to build an airport in Guria, in particular, in the village of Meria. Georgia, in terms of airports, will be one of the most developed countries in the world ", - he said.


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)