Kobuleti Coastline Renovations Could Help Promote Black Sea Tourism

Renovations of a two kilometer stretch of coastline in Georgia’s Black Sea town Kobuleti have been completed.

The President of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitshvili and Executive Director of the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia visited Kobuleti on Friday to view the completed coastline.

The Municipal Development Fund of Georgia headed the renovation works, which cost GEL 9 million. The World Bank funded GEL 2 million of the total cost, with the state budget covering the rest.

The rehabilitation works began two years ago but were delayed, angering the local population. The contract with the original contracted company was cancelled, leading the State Construction Company to complete the work.

“It is my pleasure to present the completely renovated boulevard to visitors this year,” Tskitishvili addressed attendees. “It is an important endeavour to prevent the future deterioration of the coastline. Through this and similar projects, we make it possible for local businesses to create new spaces, organize more commercial facilities and generate more income from tourism,” she continued.

The Ajara region is Georgia’s third most popular tourist destination, with visitors enjoying the area’s diverse nature and the Black Sea beaches. However, the region might be heavily hit by Vladimir Putin’s decision to ban flights from Russia to Georgia following the protests that erupted on June 20 in Tbilisi.

Many Russian tourists have already cancelled their bookings in the region since the flight ban came into force on July 8, which could take a toll on businesses in the area, especially holiday rentals.

The head of Georgia’s National Tourism Administration (GNTA) Mariam Kvrivishvili stated that around 1 million tourists could be lost this year due to the flight ban. “Ajara and the seaside towns face the biggest challenge because a large number of reservations have been cancelled,” she stated.

The government has pledged to act to lessen the effects of the ban. This week, the government announced that they had spent GEL 13 million on marketing in Russia.

However, Russian propaganda has targeted Batumi and the Ajara region, claiming that it has become a Turkish area. Pervy Kanal, a Russian TV channel, ran a report focusing on anti-Turkish stereotypes.

“Turkish troops have already crossed the border of Georgia,” says the report. “Batumi International Airport was built by a Turkish company and is operated by a Turkish company as a Turkish domestic airport. And the Turks who come here don’t need a passport.”

The report also states that mosques “are being built almost as fast as hotels,” and multiplying “like mushrooms.”

Despite such false claims, tourist numbers are expected to rise in Georgia and Ajara this year. 471,979 tourists visited Georgia last month, 71,990 more visitors compared to the same period in 2018. The number of Russian tourists also increased by 30.8%. Infrastructure projects such as that of Kobuleti should help to encourage tourists to continue visiting the region.

By Amy Jones

Image source - Wikipedia

15 July 2019 18:10