Thursday, August 1, 2013

Georgia’s tourism authority says no to ads on CNN and BBC

01.08.2013. The new Georgian Government is saying no to the country’s promotion via CNN, BBC and other leading international TV channels. “The previous TV campaign was quite simply a waste of money,” Giorgi Sigua, new head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) said. Banners, LED screens and billboards, and online advertisements are the new advertising means of choice of the current administration.

“The money needs to be spent on promoting Georgia outside of Georgia, because once you get here it sells itself. People have not heard about the changes that have happened here over the last couple of years. As a tourist I would like to know more about Georgia,” Tom Flanagan, Area Vice President of the Rezidor Hotel Group, recently stated in an interview.

“Awareness is relative. Georgia’s awareness in its neighbouring countries is high; in Eastern Europe it is average, and in the USA, Australia and Africa - very low,” Sigua stated.

“When planning a promotional campaign you should research the gross rating point, which means defining your target audience. You can broadcast an ad for millions of people but none of them might necessarily be your target. CNN’s audience is North America. It is not our target market,” said Sigua.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A new airport may be constructed near Tbilisi

20.07.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Airzena, thee new Georgian airline, came  up with initiative to build a new airport at the former Vaziani military airbase near Tbilisi.

Airzena's general director Iase Zautashvili stated on Friday, that Tbilisi international airport is small and a new airport is needed to drive economic growth.

А new airport might be constructed on the site of the Vaziani airfield. According to Zautashvili, it is not possible to bring the runway at the current international airport up to an ideal working standard. Twice during the past two months, planes have narrowly escaped accidents, pointing towards low standards in navigation services, Mr. Zautashvili says.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The secret to Georgian grilled meats? Grapevines and lots of wine (with audio)

by Corey Flintoff, National Public Radio

18.07.2013. Tucked between Russia and Turkey, the Republic of Georgia is renowned for great food: cheese dishes, pickles, breads and stews. This is a cuisine that you should not miss.

And on summer evenings in the capital, Tbilisi, the air is fragrant with the smells of one of Georgian cookery's highlights: grilled meat, or shashlik.

You can find good shashlik at restaurants with white tablecloths, but the very best in all Tbilisi is said to be at a roadside stop called Mtsvadi Isalamze. It's an unassuming place with rows of wooden picnic tables in an open yard.

The grill is a brick hearth where Giorgi Kavelashvili follows the traditions of his native Kakheti, the easternmost province of Georgia and the nation's wine country. Kavelashvili is 19, but he grills with absolute confidence, because, he says, "In Kakheti, everyone knows how to make shashlik. So I studied it from my childhood."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Number of foreign tourists in Georgia has increased

17.07.2013. (Hvino Tour News) The number of tourists leaving for Georgia from Armenia during the first 6 months of 2013 has increased by 55 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

The number of international tourists arriving in Georgia for the first six months has increased by 25 percent compared to the same period of 2012: 2 188 721 people.

The number of tourists from Turkey has increased by 18 percent and from Russia by 69 percent being 105 988 people. Number of Ukrainian tourists has increased by 73 percent.

During the last five years the highest income from tourism has been received in 2012.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

BBC on Tbilisi: Riding one of the world's steepest funicular railways (video)

17.07.2013. Rajan Datar jumps aboard the funicular railway in Georgia's capital Tbilisi and takes a ride down to the centre of the city which has fallen victim to foreign invasion on dozens of occasions over the centuries.

Georgians hope any new invaders will be tourists looking to explore the former Soviet Republic.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The "Wizz Air Efect" or how Georgia became part of the global economy

by Eric Livny, Irakli Galdava

16.07.2013. On Monday evening I am taking the express train from Tbilisi to Samtredia with my wife and two kids (business class, 120GEL). We plan to stay overnight in a little family hotel (40GEL), and at 6.30am we’ll board the Wizz Air flight to Katowice, Poland, at the cost €40 a person and €35 per suitcase (one way).

Seat reservations, luggage, train and guesthouse included, the roundtrip to Poland will cost my family around €700 compared to €1,500-2,000 using any other, conventional option. A real bargain! (even if we ignore the fact that my wife’s family is actually from Katowice!)

The renovation of Kutaisi Airport and entry by a low cost carrier (LCC) are significant events in Georgia’s modern history. Yes, for now the choice of destinations served by Wizz Air is very limited and commuting from Tbilisi to Kutaisi presents a formidable challenge, certainly for the business travelers among us. Because of these limitations, in the first three months since opening in late September 2012, Kutaisi served a miniscule 4,000 passengers per month, as compared with the 2012 Tbilisi average of 100,000/month. Yet, the Kutaisi/Wizz Air option will no doubt have a strong positive impact on Georgia’s economy and its connection to the rest of the world.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kazakh travel agencies blame Georgian partners for "complacency"

15.07.2013. Representatives of Kazakh travel agencies are complaining about the complacency of their Georgian partners. Kazakh travelers have a big interest in Georgia, but lack of available information is hampering bilateral relations, The Fianancial was told at a meeting with travel agencies in Astana.

Kazakhstan is becoming a top target country for the Georgian National Tourism Association, due to its high GDP. The list includes Russia and Oman.

Kazakhstan is one of the largest investors in Georgia. In 2008 Georgia attracted the largest FDI from Kazakhstan, despite the recent war with Russia. Kazakhstan financed several Tbilisi hotels, including the Radisson, built and upgraded energy export facilities (e.g. the oil terminal in Batumi), grain terminals, and other infrastructure. Other investments include tourism development in Georgia’s Adjara region and energy systems in Tbilisi.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Carlson Rezidor announces the Park Inn in Tbilisi

09.07.2013. Carlson Rezidor, one of the ten largest hotel groups worldwide and the leading international hotel operator in Russia/CIS, announces the Park Inn by Radisson Rustaveli Tbilisi in Georgia. The mid-market property featuring 200 rooms is scheduled to open in Q3 2015.

“We are delighted to introduce our dynamic brand Park Inn by Radisson to Georgia’s capital city and to further strengthen our presence in the country”, said Wolfgang M. Neumann, President & CEO of Rezidor. Carlson Rezidor already operates the stunning Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi and the contemporary Radisson Blu Hotel, Batumi in Georgia, and develops new resort property in Tsinandali.

Designed to be hip and cool and targeting the growing clientele of Gen X and Y, Park Inn by Radisson Rustaveli Tbilisi is part of the conversion of the existing post office building. The complex is located right next to the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel and on the most commercial street of Tbilisi , Rustaveli Avenue.

Georgian - Russian tourism project to launch in September

09.07.2013. A Russian advertising company will help  the Georgian travel company in search of tourists  and promotion of  the region. Travel company's managing director  Mr Levan Tsitskishvili said that they would be  focused mostly on Russian tourists and the Russian advertising company will help in it.

 Recently the number of Russian tourists has significantly increased in Georgia, and that is why we decided to open a travel company  that will be focused on  Russian tourists, "- Tsitskishvili notes.

He adds that the Russian company is not chosen yet, but the company will offer Russian tourists mainly wine and gastronomic tours. The new Georgian travel company will begin its active operation in September of  the current year.

New government names Russia one of the main target markets in  tourism.

According to official reports, last year more than 500 000 tourists came to Georgia from Russia, this year in  the period from January 1 to May 5, the figure increased by 77 percent.


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)