Sunday, July 7, 2013

The new in place to get married (video)

07.07.2013. The Georgian resort of Batumi is getting the reputation as the Las Vegas of the Black Sea as couples flock to the pretty coastal city to get married.

Rajan Datar joined a wedding party to see for himself why so many people from as far afield as Italy and the United States are choosing Batumi as the place to get hitched.

Friday, July 5, 2013

BBC on Georgia's traditional singing (video)

05.07.2013. Traditional polyphonic singing is one of the Georgia's biggest cultural exports. Some of the songs go back to the eighth century but UNESCO has warned such traditional music is now threatened by an exodus of people from the rural areas and the growing popularity of pop music.

BBC's Rajan Datar joined a Georgian choir and team of dancers on a trip to one of Europe's highest villages and even made an attempt at polyphonic singing himself.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Iraqi Al Naser Airlines to start regular service from Tbilisi

04.07.2013. (Hvino Tour News) One more new air carrier will perform regular flights this summer from Tbilisi international airport. Al Naser Airlines of Iraq will perform flights to three destinations from Tbilisi.

Flights Najafi -Tbilisi, Basra -Tbilisi and Baghdad- Tbilisi will be performed 5 times per week during day hours, their passengers being provided services by MD-82 airplane.

The first flight from Najafi arrived on July 4, and brought the air company’s management to Tbilisi international airport.

Today at 11 a.m. Al Naser Airlines performed the first flight from Tbilisi to second destination – Basra.

Apart from Al Naser, two other airlines have begun operating flights to the Tbilisi Airport during the summer season, namely the Ukrainian Air Onix Airlines, and the Israeli Israir Airlines.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Iran: Georgia's unilateral abolishment of visa-free travel scheme 'insignificant'

04.07.2013. (Hvino Tour News) A senior Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday that Georgia's unilateral revoke of travel scheme with Iran is "insignificant."

"Georgia has in fact imposed an embargo against itself by unilaterally revoking a visa-free travel regime with Iran," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, was quoted as saying by Press TV.

Boroujerdi denounced Tbilisi's new measure as "insignificant," saying that "Since tourism industry is among the world's money- making industries, Georgia placed an embargo on itself by revoking visa-free entry for Iranians," according to the report.

"The number of Iranians travelling to Georgia is not so considerable that the unilateral abolishment of this agreement would be important," he added.

On Tuesday, Georgia's Foreign Ministry confirmed that Georgia had revoked a 45-day visa-free travel scheme with Iran, which was signed in November 2010 and had been in effect since Jan. 26, 2011.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Number of Russian tourists visiting Georgia doubles - PM

03.07.2013. (Hvino Tour News) The number of Russian tourists visiting neighboring Georgia has doubled in the past months, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili told journalists on Wednesday.

"The number of Russian tourists in Georgia has doubled, and this is good. I think, Georgia will soon become more attractive for tourists,” the prime minister said, without giving any exact figures.

According to Georgia’s National Tourism Administration, a total of 1.7 million foreigners, including some 200,000 Russians, visited Georgia in the first five months of 2013. In the same period last year, the country was visited by over 1.2 million people, over 100,000 of them Russians.
Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia in December 2000, citing security threats. Since 2008, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties over a brief military conflict in the de-facto independent republic of South Ossetia, Georgians can apply for a Russian visa only to visit their close relatives or “in cases of humanitarian emergency.” Georgia unilaterally scrapped visas for Russians in February 29, 2012.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Georgia received 56 percent more tourists in 2012

02.07.2013. The number of tourists grew by 56 percent in 2012, according to the National Tourism Administration. 4 389 256 tourists visited Georgia last year.

In the period from January to May 2013, the number of tourists was 1 698 146, which is an increase of 31 percent compared to last year.

Broken down by country, the majority of visitors came from Turkey with 616 864, Azerbaijan – 355 809, Armenia – 353 732 and Russia – 184 287, followed by Ukraine 38 049, Iran – 26 360, US – 9 044 and Germany – 8 682.

According to the National Tourism Administration, 57 percent of all visitors to Georgia are tourists. The administration defines a visitor as a person who stays at least one night in the country.

38 percent of visitors come for holidays, 20 percent come to visit friends and relatives, while 5 percent are here on business trip. The capital remains the most popular destination for tourists with 44 percent, followed by Batumi, a city on Black Sea shores with 43 percent.

By the end of the year the administration assumes there will be about five million tourists in total.
The National Tourism Administration cooperates with tourist agencies as well as the ministries for foreign affairs, agriculture, economy and culture.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Medical tourism workshop brings industry stakeholders to Tbilisi

30.06.2013. (Hvino Tour News) The Medical Tourism Association® (MTA), in collaboration with MedTourGeorgia, presented a daylong workshop on “Opportunities for Medical Tourism in Georgia,” which provided a forum for industry stakeholders to discuss business opportunities, common goals and challenges, June 25, 2013, at Tbilisi State Medical University.

“I am confident that this one-day workshop will raise awareness about medical tourism in Georgia and it will become an excellent basis for further activities in this direction,” said Dr. Paata Ratiani, founder and CEO of “MedTourGeorgia” and official MTA representative in Georgia, following site tours and meetings.

Presenters at the workshops included Jeff Coxon, education and engagement manager, MTA Europe; Amelia Fernandez, education & engagement coordinator, MTA Global; Dr. Prem Jagyasi, U.S. executive program director, MTA Global; Mary Miller, managing partner, MPROVE GLOBAL, Inc; and Dr. Paata Ratiani, founder and CEO, “MedTourGeorgia” and official MTA representative in Georgia.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Georgia's wine tourism future lies in showcasing its uniqueness

by Sharon Parsons

27.06.2013. A tour of the Eurasian country of Georgia was an opportunity to explore the enotourism or wine tourism potential of its wine regions. Here are some observations based on our experiences in Georgia. Georgia should not try to offer what you find in other winemaking regions of the world. Georgia's enotourism potential lies in showcasing what it has to offer the wine world. Georgia has much to offer that is very different from what you will find elsewhere. This includes (1) an extensive wine history, (2) a qvevri wine making tradition, (2) the celebration of wine and food through Georgian feasts or supras, and (3) Georgian wines made from indigenous grapes.

Georgia’s 8000 years of wine making history makes it is one of the oldest wine making regions in the world. In fact Qvevri wine making dates back to 1011AD to 4000BC, with viticulture in Georgia dating back to 6000BC. Qvevri (kvevri) wine making is a traditional wine making process that is still used in Georgia. What is unique to this wine making process is the use of a large earthenware vessel (qvevri) in which the wine is made. This natural wine making process involves the use of large clay pots, lined with beeswax that is buried in the ground.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

National Tourism Administration takes part in Georgian-Israeli business forum

26.06.2013. (Hvino Tour News) Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) is represented in the Georgian-Israeli Open Business Forum in Tel Aviv.

The Forum was opened on June 25 by Georgia's prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. The event is organized by National Investment Agency of Georgia, Georgian Embassy in Israel and the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute.

National Tourism Administration continues wide marketing campaign in Israel this year to increase flow of tourists and maintain popularity of Georgia. The marketing campaign in 2012 resulted in 21% rise of number of tourists from Israel to Georgia. In 2011 there were 25 438 visitors from Israel, in 2012 – 30 755, in the first three months of 2013 – 3813 visitors.

GNTA's head Giorgi Sigua will meet with his Israeli counterpart and with other officials. Meetings with marketing and PR companies are also scheduled.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

President of Georgia attended Kartli Wine Festival

26.06.2013 (Hvino News) The President of Georgia attended Kartli Wine Festival 2013, which was held at the rehabilitated Castle District in the Georgian town of Gori. Mikheil Saakashvili spoke with winemakers and noted that such events will assist popularization of the local wine, which will give farmers more income.

The President also met with winemakers whose vineyards were illegally left on the other side of the "barbwire" (the de facto border installed after 2008's war with Russia) in Dvani.

The Kartlian winemakers treated the President with wine pressed out of ancient vine varieties. Exhibition and sale of various handmade goods was also held within the scope of the wine festival. Mikheil Saakashvili symbolically bought handmade products by persons with limited abilities and took photos with them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Five questions with first deputy minister Dimitry Kumsishvili

by Maia Edilashvili

25.06.2013. Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia shares the new government's vision and plans for development of the country's tourism sector.

Q: Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has said that tourism will be a significant sector but that its place will not be as prominent as it was before. What will that change mean for the tourism policy?

A: Tourism is a priority field for our government. As you know, the development of this field helps increase employment, facilitates the development of small and medium sized businesses, boosts budget revenues, and encourages regional development.

There are fundamental changes underway in this direction: a council of advisors has been set up that unites representatives of businesses- a step which aims to increase their engagement in the decision-making process; work is in progress on the tourism development strategy whereby, taking into account recommendations provided in the framework of EU twinning project - an institutional building tool -, a law on tourism will be drafted and works will be launched to establish regional management organizations. Changes are planned in the marketing area as well.

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Counting tourists in Georgia

23.06.2013. The former Georgian government used simple math to increase the number of tourists. Every single person crossing the Georgian border was considered a tourist, whereas many people, in particular truck drivers, are transit visitors who do not spend a single night in Georgia.

Therefore, to calculate the real number of tourists in Georgia, the authorities have started to distinguish between tourists and transit visitors.

As a result the National Agency of Tourism has made certain figures available; it appears that only 57% of people entering Georgia are actually tourists. The authorities distinguish between three types of visitors to the country: transit passengers; people who are visiting Georgia for holidays and those who are visiting families and friends. Popular destinations for tourists include Tbilisi, Batumi, Marneuli, Mtskheta, etc. In the first quarter of 2013 up to one million foreigners entered Georgia. This figure is higher than in the same period for last year.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Head of Georgian National Tourism Administration presented new tourism strategy

by Nino Edilashvili

21.06.2013. The number of foreign visitors in Georgia increased 30% from last year and the expectation is that by the end of 2013, growth will total 37%, this according to Giorgi Sigua, the newly appointed head of the state-run Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA). His prediction is that this year more than five million foreign visitors, including 700, 000 visitors from Russia, will come to Georgia.

The position of the GNTA’s head was vacant for five months after Maia Sidamonidze, the previous head of the GNTA resigned in January of 2013.

On June 18, Dimitry Kumsihvili, the Deputy Economy Minister introduced Sigua to the media and business community representatives, saying that Sigua was an appropriate choice for this position. “He speaks five languages and we hope that he will be able to implement innovative projects together with the experienced group at the GNTA, as well as promote Georgia as a tourism destination worldwide,” Kumsishvili said.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

57% of visitors to Georgia Jan-Mar 2013 were tourists

20.06.2013. 57 percent of foreigners who crossed the border into Georgia in first quarter of 2013 were tourists, according to the first result of a report conducted by the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

Giorgi Sigua, head of the administration, said while presenting the report at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel that the remaining share of visitors are people who didn’t stay in the country for more than a day.

The presentation was attended by representatives of tour operators, hotels, restaurants and air companies.

Sigua noted that Georgia still doesn’t have a strategy for tourism, but there are already plans to implement certain structural changes, and to set up regional management organizations, while lawyers are working on preparing a law on tourism.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wine and outhouses, Racha-Style

by Alice Feiring

19.06.2013. First, where is Racha? Northwest of Georgia (no, not Atlanta). Not far from Imeriti. Gorgeous. Rich in terroir; iron, carbon, granite, slate, marcasite, quartz,  limestone of all colors that is crawling with ancient crustaceans. The place is a raw nerve of terroir.

Yet the mountainous, pulse-stoppingly beautiful highland-like region is gravely under-utilized and way too poor. This, Georgia's smallest wine region with no bottle-ready wine maker currently on the market--is a  land in need of champion. No foreign star winemaker such as Raul Perez/Telmo Rodriguez is on the horizon. Given my prejudice about wine, this is a good thing.

But some of Georgia's best,  committed to making wine close to nature--like Imertian Ramaz Nikoladze, or Kartlians Niki Antadze and Iago Bitarishvili or Khaketian Gela Patalishvili--could help some of the home talent wanting to come to local and foreign tables.  But right now these local superstars are also struggling to make a dream happen-- as all were born in Soviet times when there no dreams were allowed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Rezidor Group VP: More about Georgia

Photo: The Financial
18.06.2013. The Rezidor Hotel Group, the managing company of Radisson Blu hotels in Tbilisi and Batumi, would like to have up to ten hotels in Georgia. Tom Flanagan, Area Vice President of the Rezidor Hotel Group, currently residing in Moscow, has said that good relations with Russia are essential for the development of tourism in Georgia. Mr. Flanagan spoke with The Financial last Wednesday at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, where Rezidor Hotel Group held its regional conference in Tbilisi .

“Due to the increasing level of business activity as well as development of Georgia’s meetings facilities that meet international standards such as at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi , the demand for Georgia as the business destination and event’s venue is growing” said Flanagan.

“The more positive relations with Russia of late are a very exciting part of the potential in Georgia. This is unbelievably positive progress for the country. We see the tourism figures of arrivals for the country jumping and Russians are starting to contribute to that. So, these growth figures are extremely important for the hotels as a feeder,” said Mr. Flanagan.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

IWINETC Georgia 2014: Early bird registration announced

16.06.2013. If you are in the tourism or wine industry, prepare yourself for the 6th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference to take place in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The conference is scheduled for March 28-29, 2014. The conference is geared toward travel agents, wineries, restaurants, bloggers, writers and more. Up to 300 wine, culinary and travel professionals and wine and travel social and traditional media professionals will gather from throughout the world to meet, learn, and share at this, the sixth annual conference for the wine and culinary tourism industry.

30 places will be allocated to active wine and travel bloggers with a massive 60% discount on the price of the two day event. The Conference will include around 30 talks and workshops with an exhibition area to include wine tourism destinations not only in and around Georgia but also in grape escape destinations around the world. The popular evening After Conference programme will include the Grand Wines of Georgia Tasting and there will be smaller tastings of wines from neigbouring countries as well as a wine tasting from the 2015 host country!

Bloggers will also have the opportunity to participate in pre and post conference tours to the nearby Kakheti wine region where they will discover the world’s oldest wine culture and the unique qvevri tradition of clay pots used to create delicious, unfiltered, organic wines.