Monday, September 9, 2013

Russian tourists help Georgia’s recovery

09.09.2013.The years leading up to the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia saw increasing unrest and a constantly widening rift. In September 1991, the people of Tbilisi in Georgia had already blocked Russian TV and radio signals and had covered or removed signs written in the Russian language. Now, five years after the war is over, Russian troops still patrol in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two provinces of Georgia.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries are nil, and trade agreements are strained. Despite joining the World Trade Organization, Russia still blocks produce from Georgia completely and disallows commercial travel. However, the southern country has found ways of getting around these restrictions and increased Russian tourist numbers to nearly 500,000 visitors this year.

First, Georgia has removed visa restrictions for Russians who want to visit. Second, they structure their flights as charters and continue to fly from Moscow to Tbilisi two times every day, and from Moscow to Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city, three times per week. These measures have made Russians the most common people to visit Georgia for pleasure.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

161 new hotels opened in Georgia last year

05.09.2013 (Hvino Tour News). According to Geostat, Georgia's official statistics agency, 161 new hotels opened in Georgia in a year. Geostat informs that in 2012 777 hotels and hotel-type facilities were in Georgia, in 2011 - 611. Total number of rooms in 2012 was 14 463 units, in 2011 - 12 901.

The agency explains that this data includes legal persons and individual entrepreneurs (including local units and branches), registered as hotel or hotel-type facilities in accordance to Georgian legislation.

It's noteworthy that number of hotels has doubled compared to 2007.

According to official statistics, last year visitors' number equaled to 1 185 100 persons, which exceeds to 2011 data by 332 100 persons. Among them 665 500 were foreigners,
8561 persons were employed in the hotels and hotel-type facilities.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Georgia may host general assembly of the World Tourism Organization in 2017

02.09.2013 (Hvino Tour News)In 2017, Georgia may host general assembly of the World Tourism Organization, said George Sigua, head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, during the current assembly session in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the plenary session Mr. Sigua talked about the Georgian government's tourism politics, the implemented projects and future plans, as well as the open sky policy and aviation issues.

After the presentation, Sigua met with Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the Organization. The meeting focused on Mr. Rifai’s possible visit to Georgia, the discussion of Georgia as a host country  of General Assembly in 2017 and other topics.

During the visit George Sigua also met with the Head of the Russian Tourism Agency Alexander Radkov, Head of the State Agency for Tourism and Resorts of Ukraine Elena Shapovalova, officials of tourism departments from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Iraq.

Sigua received proposal from the Government of Zambia to become the country's honorary consul in Georgia.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Education challenge facing hospitality industry

by Maia Edilashvili

28.08.2013. Despite a love for guests, Georgians have struggled to overcome their Soviet past and create efficient, professional -- and civil -- hospitality staff for the growing number of tourists coming to the country. A new program by Tbilisi City Hall, however, hopes to increase standards and create a warm welcome for tourists and locals alike.

Being a gracious host is an art form in Georgia, where being hospitality is a considered a birthright and nurtured from childhood. But despite the priority placed on hosting at home, in the commercial sector, Georgians are still struggling to create a culture of hospitality.

Hotels that lack basic amenities, boring tour guides, and cafés with surly wait staff that serve more snark than sandwiches may mar otherwise fabulous trips to gorgeous Georgian destinations.

A 2011 Value Chain Assessment report from USAID's Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) found several reasons for these problems, including the fact that workers are undertrained, young people are uninterested working in the service industry, and employers are reluctant to hire potential employees over the age of 40.

Monday, August 26, 2013

5 million GEL to be spent on infrastructure projects in Borjomi

26.08.2013 (Hvino Tour News)A total of 5 million GEL will be spent on infrastructure projects in Borjomi municipality in 2013. According to Borjomi district administration more than one million had been allocated from the state budget. Infrastructure Ministry would allocate additional one million 200 thousand GEL.T hey say that more than one million will be spent on rehabilitation of the Borjomi Park, 340 thousand GEL will be  spent on the arrangement of Likani sewage systems. More than one million GEL will be allocated from  the local budget on the roads, street lighting and water system works.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two hotels opened in Tbilisi with Kazakh funding

21.08.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Georgia-Kazakh investment group “Tiflis Development" will open two new hotels in Tbilisi in September.

The names of hotels are not yet known, but one of them will be located in Abanotubani, and another in Saburtalo district. The hotel located in Abanotubani will be 4-storey building and in total 2 million USD was invested in it. The second hotel, which will be 16–storey, costed 3 million USD.

“Tiflis Development " is going to open the hotel officially  in September. Management has not yet set the pricing policy.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stalin statue roils Georgia 60 years after dictator’s death (with video)

by James Brooke

15.08.2013. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Georgia’s most famous - or infamous - son, Josef Stalin. A missing bronze Stalin statue has become a lightning rod for controversy.

For 30 years, Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist, killing as many as 20 million people through executions, exile and man-made famines.

But here in Gori, Iosif Dzhugashvili, or Stalin, is a hometown boy. On Stalin Avenue, Gori’s Stalin Museum preserves the humble brick cottage where baby Stalin spent his first four years.

Stalin is Gori’s number-one tourist attraction. But Gori’s love affair with Stalin took a jolt three years ago. Under the cover of darkness, the pro-Western government of Mikheil Saakashvili removed a massive bronze Stalin statue from Gori’s main square.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Georgia had 26% more tourists so far in 2013

13.08.2012. The number of people who visited Georgia has increased by 26 percent in the first seven months of 2013 compared to the same period last year.

Giorgi Sigua, Chairman of the National Tourism Administration, said at a briefing that in the first seven months 2 797 910 foreigner visitors arrived to Georgia, which was 26 percent more than last year.

Turkey is where the highest number of visitors — 911 427 — come from, followed by Armenia with 620 213, and Azerbaijan with 550 543.

The number of visitors from Europe in the first two months was 2 115 144. This is a 27 percent increase.

In July, the number of foreigners who visited Georgia was 609 189. This is 16 percent more than in July, 2012 (527 006). The highest number of visitors came from Armenia, 162 592, followed by Turkey with 139 002 and Russia with 115 871.

According to the National Tourism Administration, 4 389 256 tourists visited Georgia last year. This year the administration expects to see more than 5 million tourists in total.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mobile guides service to help tourists launched in Tbilisi

12.08.2013 (Hvino Tour News) Starting from today, mobile guides will serve the tourists in the capital of Georgia. According to the National Tourism Administration, guides will serve visitors 3 days a week, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mobile groups in branded uniform will work in the touristic areas. They will offer printed materials and provide necessary information to tourists free of charge, the National Tourism Administration states.

The guides will circulate between Liberty Square, Rustaveli Street, Shardeni Street, Abanotubani, Narikala  from 10 AM till 8 PM.

The project is planned for a period of 2 months and will last until October.

© HTN (Hvino Tour News)

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.