Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kutaisi gets ready for Imereti Wine Festival

11.08.2013 (Hvino News). Preparations for Imereti Wine Festival are ongoing in the city of Kutaisi. The city will host guests of the festival in the vicinity of Okros Chardakhi. Okros Chardakhi (Golden Marquee) is the only surviving structure of the 17th century palace of the kings of Imereti in Kutaisi./

Imereti Wine Festival -2013 is organized by Georgian Presidential Administration. Similar event was held in Shida Kartli, and will take place in other regions of Georgia as well.

Wine Festival aims at popularization of Georgian wines and preservation of unique vine species. It will contribute to attraction of entrepreneurs and selling of Georgian wines both on domestic and international markets.

© Hvino News

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Investment of half billion Georgian lari is planned in tourism

10.08.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Giorgi Sigua, head of Georgian Tourism Administration, reports that about 500 million lari (approx. 250 million EUR) will be invested in different infrastructure projects. "We want to rise tourism's share in GDP up to 6.5% (currently, 4.5%) and later - up to 9%", he stated.

According to Mr. Sigua, serious investment is planned in Anaklia resort. Companies, which want to invest in Anaklia, will be exempted from taxes for 10-15 years, he says.

The Administration plans to build ski slope of 10-12 km in Mestia, which must be completed before March 2014.

Besides, the Administration says that rehabilitation of Tskaltubo would be completed with financial support from the World Bank.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Friday, August 9, 2013

24/7 hotline to help tourists

09.08.2013. With the goal to help foreign visitors receive reliable information easily, the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) initiated a 24/7 hotline. So, starting in August all interested travelers both local and international can call 0 800 800 909 and receive information free-of- charge about transportation and the best places stay and eat.

In addition, visitors can also receive information about hiking tours, planned national festivals, events and other activities. The GNTA says that visitors will be informed about the hotline immediately after they cross the Georgian border.

According to the GNTA, at the first stage, the hotline is available only in three languages: Georgian, English and Russian, but the team hopes to add other languages soon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Georgian Railway aiming to grow

06.08.2013. Georgian Railway has set out its plans for future development, saying it aims 'to become one of the companies promoting growth of the national economy.'

The national railway said a close relationship with freight shippers is a priority. Freight income in the Q1 2013-14 was up 13% on the same period last year, and GR expects liquid freight to increase by 870000 tonnes and dry freight by 200000 tonnes this year. More efficient use is being made of crews, and average train loads, speeds and energy efficiency are increasing.

Negotiations with Azerbaijan aim to establish through tariffs for cotton, wheat, coal and NATO traffic from Afghanistan, which GR expects would help to grow traffic.

GR aims to adopt ISO 9001 standards and introduce harmonisation with EU directives. A freight terminal and customs facilities are to be built at Batumi for transhipping goods arriving from Turkey by road, and there will be closer integration with Black Sea ferries.


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.