GD Gov't Spent GEL 13 mln on Georgian Tourism Marketing in Russia

It has been revealed that the Georgian Dream (GD) government has in its time in power spent more than GEL 13 million ($4.56 million) on promoting Georgian tourism in the Russian Federation.

Official statistics of Georgia’s National Tourism Administration (GNTA) read that most of its budget of nearly GEL 6 million ($2.1 million), was spent on marketing in Russia in 2018.

The amount spent per year on advertising Georgia is as follows:

2013 – GEL 100,158; 2014 – GEL 188,325; 2015 – GEL 1,679, 482; 2016 – GEL 3,952, 613; 2017 – GEL 1,259,385; 2018 – GEL 5,984,318.

2019 is the first year since 2013 where the government did not budget money for marketing activities in Russia.

The official information shows that in 2015, the GNTA spent GEL 1.7 million of the tourism administration budget on marketing activities in Russia, while the total budget for marketing was almost 18 million GEL. In 2017, 1.2 million was spent on marketing in Russia from an 18.5 million budget, and in 2018, the National Tourism Administration allocated 16.5 million GEL for Georgia's tourism marketing, of which almost 6 million was spent in Russia alone.

In recent years, the private sector, including the Platform of the Investors’ Council, has repeatedly urged the government to reduce costs in Russia, yet these recommendations have been disregarded by the Ministry of Economy and the National Tourism Administration, previously headed by Giorgi Chogovadze (2014-2018).

The private sector said that the budget should not be spent on marketing Georgian tourism in big countries like Russia, and instead should focus on new markets and on targeting young trend-setters.

This year the GNTA’s total budget is GEL 17 million ($5.96 million) of which 7 million has already been spent on various activities not including Russia.

Since 2013, the number of visitors from Russia has been continually growing, and reached 1.4 million last year.

However, with Russian President Vladimir Putin banning direct flights with Georgia from July 8, it is believed that this year alone the country will lose one million tourists, which will result in around a $700 loss.

The number of Russian tourists in Georgia since 2012, when GD came to power, is as follows: 2012 – 0.4 million visitors, 2013 – 0.6 million, 2014 – 0.6 million, 2015 – 0.7 million, 2016 - 0.8 million, 2017 – 1.1 million, 2018 – 1.4 million.

The amount of money spent by Russian tourists has also grown. In 2018, the total tourist expenditure from Russia amounted to GEL 1.9 billion ($666 million) and in the first quarter of 2019 it was 318.5 million GEL ($111 million). Yet it is noteworthy that Russian tourists were not on the top 10 list of tourists who spent the most money in Georgia in 2018 or Quarter 1 of 2019.

Moreover, where one visitor from Russia last year spent 1326 GEL ($465) per visit, this year they spent less than 1135 GEL ($398) in the first quarter, while American, Chinese, French and Iranian tourists tend to leave 2000 ($701) GEL or more per person, according to the data.

Current GNTA Head Mariam Kvrivishvili said that European Union countries, Israel, the United States and the Persian Gulf countries are the main target markets for popularizing Georgia this year.

“Marketing campaigns are already underway in Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands and are planned in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan.

Kvrivishvili says that after the Russian ban on direct flights with Georgia, the GNTA is focusing on marketing Georgia in countries whose citizens can visit Georgia as soon as possible.

“Such countries are Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,” she explained.

The GNTA Head noted that the decision not to spend money on marketing activities in Russia was made even before the travel ban was imposed.

“Awareness about Georgia is quite high in Russia and visitors from there usually recommend Georgia to their relatives and friends after visiting…25% of tourists to Georgia come from Russia, which is already very high number,” she said.

By Thea Morrison

Mestia, Svaneti region. Source: gta.ge

15 July 2019 17:34
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