Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Georgian carrier, Eurasian Airways, eyes Europe-Asia market

12.06.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Eurasian Airways is a new Georgian airline that plans to use Tbilisi as an intermediate hub for passenger and cargo flights between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, reports Swiss aviation resource ch-aviation. Eurasian Airways will also aim to "incorporate the rapidly expanding markets in the Caspian, Black Sea and Caucasus region markets." At this point in time, however, no exact network or fleet plans have been divulged.

Eurasian Airways has a registered domain name (domain owner's name is Nikoloz  Medzmariashvili), bu the site is currently unreachable. HTN could not find additional information.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flow of tourists in Mestia grows after a failed winter season

07.06.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Flow of visitors increased by 50% compared to previous months. After a failed winter season the local hoteliers talk about increased number of visitors.

According to  the administration of Tetnuldi hotel,  compared with the previous months,  the number of tourists has  increased by 50%.  Summer season is already open and 40% of rooms are booked. Japanese, French and German tourists prevail over locals in the resort. The hotel management says that prices are similar to last year: a price of a single rooms is 140GEL, while a double room costs 180 GEL. This price includes two meals a day as well.

Mestia Hotel also talks about increase of visitors. The hotel management notes that compared with
the previous months the flow of visitors increased by 50%. As for the prices, Mestia's management reduced prices to attract clients, and a double room now costs 100 GEL instead of 120 GEL.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Giorgi Sigua appointed as new head of Georgian Tourism Administration

07.06.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Giorgi Sigua was appointed as head of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia. He was presented by First Deputy Minister of Economy Dimitri Kumsishvili.

Previously Mr. Sigua was member of Georgian parliament, where he was deputy chairman of Committee on regional policy.

Position of head of the National Tourism Administration has been vacant since January 2013, after Maya Sidamonidze's resignatuion (see Director of National Tourism  Agency leaves her post)

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Number of foreign visitors of Georgia grew by 32% over first months of 2013

06.06.2013. During the first four months of 2013, the number of international travellers in the country amounted to 1,291,593, which is 32% more in comparison with the same period of 2012. The number was 978,521 in the same period of the previous year. Visitors from neighbouring countries occupy the largest share of these increased figures. Georgia plans to host over 5 million visitors by the end of 2013.

The number of incoming international travellers from neighbouring countries amounted to 1,159,009 which is 285,486 higher than in the first four months of last year (a 33% increase). The number of Russian travellers also increased this year. Georgia hosted 57,395 Russian travellers more this year, 77% more than in the same period of last year. Travellers from Ukraine, Egypt, Iraq and Iran also increased.

“Political stability, transportation, impressions from previous visits and marketing activities in which our administration is engaged are the main factors causing this increased number of international visitors,” according to Rusudan Mamatsashvili, Head of the Planning and Development Department at the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA).

Monday, June 3, 2013

New airline services opened from Tbilisi to Baghdad, Iraq, and to Simferopol, Ukraine

03.06.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News)On May 30 FlyGeorgia inaugurated Tbilisi – Baghdad service, with twice weekly operation on board Airbus A319 aircraft. The service will start from late May.

Ukrainian Air Onix from June 3th opens service between Tbilisi and Simferopol (Crimea, Ukraine).  It is also twice weekly operation, on board Boeing-737 aircraft.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Belavia opens Minsk-Kutaisi flight

29.05.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). The first regular flight Minsk-Kutaisi (Georgia)-Minsk was conducted by the national airline Belavia on 28 May, BelTA learnt from the press service of the air company.

The plane for Kutaisi left Minsk at 00h05 and touched down in the Georgian city at 3h50. The plane was back to the Belarusian capital at 6h35.

The flight to David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport will be operated three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) on CRJ-100/200 aircraft. The journey will take 2 hours 45 minutes in one direction.

Kutaisi International Airport played host to an official ceremony of opening the new flight. Attending the presentation were the management of the airport and the Belarusian air carrier. Deputy Director General for IT of the national air company Belavia Vladimir Barkun expressed confidence that the flight would promote an increase in direct and transit passengers traveling via Minsk to Europe and the CIS.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ukraine International Airlines performed first flight from Batumi Airport

28.05.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News). Ukraine International Airlines launched non-stop scheduled service Batumi – Kiev – Batumi.

Until the end of June 2013 new flights en route Batumi – Kiev – Batumi are operated thrice a week on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from Batumi to Kiev. Starting July 1, the frequency of flights on the route will be increased up to 4 weekly flights – besides the above mentioned ones Batumi – Kiev flights will be also operated on Thursdays, and starting July 10 UIA will operate 5 weekly flights between Batumi and Kiev: on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Within the promo campaign, the price of one-way ticket from Kiev to Batumi, purchased until May 31, will start from 37 Euro. Regular flights will be performed by B 737-500 type aircraft, and will deliver passengers from Kiev at 22:50 p.m. As for the departure, the flight from Batumi Airport to Kiev will be carried out at 06:45 a.m. Flight duration is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

UIA offers direct service between Georgia and Ukraine, connecting the two countries with three direct scheduled flights per day: two daily flights between Tbilisi and Kiev and one daily flight en route Batumi – Kiev – Batumi.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

London to host Georgian festival

by Nino Edilashvili

12.05.2013. People in Great Britain tend to love the arts, wine and exploring foreign cultures. So they will have an opportunity to attend a grand festival entitled Georgia-Art in Wine and Wine in Art scheduled from May 6-21 in London.

Mako Abashidze, Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), the organizer of the festival, says that this event with its “very extraordinary format” will raise awareness of Georgia. “The target group of the festival is the British media and ordinary people who have an interest in Georgia, as well as our Georgian emigrants living in London,” Abashidze told Georgia Today.

The festival is divided into several parts and includes a performance by members of the Marjanishvili Theatre, an arts exhibition and a presentation of Chateau Mukhrani wines, as well as a film screening.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

FlyGeorgia eyes Gulf market

09.05.2013. Newly-established FlyGeorgia Airline plans to expand its operations in Gulf to boost tourism in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

One of the newest airlines in the aviation sector, which has three weekly flights on Tbilisi-Dubai-Tbilisi route, will increase its frequency to four per week from this summer and target a daily service by next year.

“We are keen to buildup a strong route network in Gulf to boost tourism in Georgia,” airline’s director of media relations Tannaz Hosseinpour told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market.

Privately-owned Georgian airline aims at connecting the CIS state with the world to support its development of tourism, economic growth, and popularisation of the country. It is the only airline with an Airbus fleet flying out of Tbilisi International airport and has established 10 routes in three continents in less than six months.  “We are set to launch new services in Gulf, Europe and other Asian destinations to expand the airline’s network. The airline has ambitious plans for the near future,” Hosseinpour said.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Travel to Alaverdi in Georgia and enjoy a wine-tasting holiday with a difference

25.04.2013. Alaverdi Monestry produces 30,000 litres of wine a year using the old qvevri method. At my table are nine people. Eight have long beards and are strictly religious. They are priests and bishops. The other is me. All of us have a glass of yellow wine and are toasting… I am not sure what.

Inside the Alaverdi Monastery, in the heart of the Kakheti wine region, are bottles and bottles of wine that have been researched, studied and cultivated here since the 11th century. Bishop David stands up with the slightest of wobbles. He has engaging black eyes and a raw-boned frame. He is still youthful but this fact is disguised by a long, wispy beard.

Bishop David speaks eloquently about the monastery’s history, or so I’m told. I have no understanding of the language, so snippets are translated for me. Bishop David stands at the head of the table as the ‘tamada’ (toastmaster), elected to toast and maintain discipline. This ancient ritual of host has been preserved throughout Georgian history and continues here, as Bishop David delivers a lament on wine production and the responsibility of the monastery as a wine academy. ‘Wherever there are monks, there is wine being made,’ he says.

The recently excavated eighth-century cellar has been restored and the monastery produces more than 30,000 litres of wine a year under its own label using the qvevri method – which uses a large earthenware vessel to ferment wine – as well as modern methods that use stainless-steel fermentation containers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

15th International Tourism Exhibition in Tbilisi

by Baia Dzagnidze

With the goal of promoting Georgia as tourist destination, the 15th International Tourism Fair and 2nd Caucasus Incentive, Business Travel and Meeting Exhibition set up a meeting place for local and foreign tour operators and enabled them to present information to an audience on April 12-14.

ExpoGeorgia, an exhibition center in Tbilisi, hosted the event, uniting around 100 exhibitors from various countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

“The tourism fair is one of the traditional projects for the center,” says project manager Nino Gamrekeli. “Every year, visitors get a feel for what the current trends are in the tourism sector. This year’s exhibition presents the most diverse touristic products compared to previous years,” she said, adding that the visitor can obtain detailed information on interesting touristic destinations.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Georgia, Cradle of Wine (IWTC 2013)

by Jochen Erler

15.04.2013. This was the title of the closing plenary session at the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop in Croatia 2013 (read more here), and was made by the Georgian National Tourism Administration and the Georgian National Wine Agency. They gave an introduction to the wine industry of their country which has the longest history of uninterrupted wine production in the world. While under the Soviet regime emphasis was given to the volume of output, and this on a surface of 150.000 ha, nowadays only 40.000 ha are covered by productive vineyards. Quality of the wine has increased considerably since having lost the Russian market for the past few years and having established a foothold in other markets.

The development of wine tourism is one of the key targets of Georgia’s Government which has established an ambitious program of education and training for all manpower involved in the wine tourism industry. For each category of stakeholders, such as restaurant staff, winery staff, tour leaders and managerial staff specific and very detailed criteria have been laid down to ensure competence and professionalism for these people.

In addition, the existing wine festivals will receive support and further development. The highlight of the presentation was the announcement that Georgia will be the host country for next year’s (2014) International Wine Tourism Conference. The auditorium responded spontaneously by applauding this announcement. See you there in 2014!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bidzina Ivanishvili: Georgia cannot live thanks to tourism only

11.04.2013 (HTN - Hvino Tour News).  Georgia cannot live thanks to tourism only, - Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated during a meeting with the editors of television channels  and printed medias on April 10.

In his words,  he doesn't  agree with the previous government's "obsession" that tourism will save our country. "Tourism will be  one of business directions, and not the core as the previous government considered," - Ivanishvili said.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Saveur": Everlasting feast: Food in the Republic of Georgia

By Karen Shimizu

09.04.2013. In the Republic of Georgia, bold, unique flavors, ancient methods of winemaking, and epic meals are at the center of a way of life. I've thought about this meal so many times now that the memory of it feels like a dream: I'm seated at a table whose surface I can no longer see—it has disappeared entirely underneath dozens of overlapping plates. There are only six of us, but the food laid out could easily feed 30. There are loaves of bread; plates of white, salty sulguni cheese; platters of peppery raw radishes, pickled tomatoes, and palate-freshening parsley, tarragon, and green onions; earthenware dishes called ketsi filled with grilled mushrooms and fried potatoes; jars of fresh yogurt and little bowls of rose petal jam and honey to add to it; bottles of tarragon soda; and pitchers of wine, some purple-black saperavi and others amber, apricot-scented rkatsiteli.

It's early autumn, and I'm in a town called Bodbiskhevi in Kakheti, the easternmost region of the Republic of Georgia. We're an hour into a dinner in the backyard of Gela Patalashvili, a winemaker here. His vineyards stretch for miles in every direction. If I squint, the tawny, arid landscape, thickly planted with grapevines and dotted with pomegranate and cypress trees, reminds me of Tuscany—that is, if Tuscany were bordered by the snowcapped Caucasus Mountains and home to a 7,000-year-old winemaking tradition. Gathered around the table are my husband, Chris, and a handful of Georgian and American expat friends. After a day of helping Gela pick plums from his orchards, we've been invited to join him for dinner, which, as dinners tend to do in Georgia, has turned into a several-hour feast called a supra (meaning "tablecloth" for the way the food covers the table), a celebratory meal involving structured toasts, wine, song, and lots and lots of food.

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Polish tourists visiting Georgia

08.04.2013. The number of Polish tourists visiting Georgia increased by 94 percent in 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, according to the Georgian Tourism Association.

About 21,000 Polish tourists visited Georgia in 2012. The majority of them visited the country in the summer.

An increase was observed compared to 2011 as well, when just 12,103 polish tourists visited Georgia, according to the National Statistics Office of Georgia. In total 5,053,046 people arrived in Georgia that year. Among them, 2,233,589 were citizens of Georgia and 2,819,457 - the citizens of other countries.

The number of tourists that have visited Tbilisi from Poland since January 2013 is 634.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs talks about tourism in Georgia

05.04.2013. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has recently published travel recommendations for the world's countries.

The first category is those countries that are inadvisable to visit at all. The second category is those countries that are not recommended unless there is an urgent need. The third category is countries which are generally safe to travel in except for certain territories. The fourth is those countries where tourists should take certain safety measures, and fifth category is those countries where traveling is very safe.

Georgia is in the third group together with Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to the Canadian Foreign Ministry's list the U.S.A. Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea are among the safest countries to visit in the world.


"The Guardian": Doing the chacha

Photo: Vano Shlamov/Getty
by Dan Peleschuk

05.04.2013. A few shots of the national drink allow travellers to gaze on Tbilisi with fresh eyes. Our guide, Lasha, couldn't find any other words: "Have a couple shots," he kept saying with a wry smile, "and you'll be set."

All afternoon, Lasha's attempts to describe the taste, strength and effects of chacha – Georgia's national spirit – had left us intrigued. We had spent the day touring the picturesque south Caucasian country, known for its majestic peaks, savoury cuisine and the hospitality of its locals. And Lasha, naturally, served as our source for all matters of local history and culture. But whenever the conversation turned toward chacha, a predominantly grape-based liquor reputed for its flavour and strength, he seemed at a loss for words.

So in the evening, as we headed back towards the capital of Tbilisi, a forlorn, roadside mess hut caught our attention. "Maybe they have it," Lasha wondered aloud as we pulled over.