Georgia Receives $44.3 mln Less from Russian Tourists in July

Due to the Russian ban on flights with Georgia which kicked off on July 8, the income from Russian tourists was $44.3 million less last month compared to the same period of 2018.

“Tourism revenues totaled $375 million in July 2019, $58 million less than a year prior. The income received from Russian citizens alone was about $44 million,” announced Mariam Kvrivishvili, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA).

The GNTA says Georgia's tourism sector grew in July by 5.8% and amounted to 1,099,474 visitors. The number of direct tourist visits increased by 1% (570,482 tourists).

The agency noted there has been an increase in the number of tourists from many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and others. There was also a positive trend from EU countries.

It added that the number of Russian visitors in July decreased by 6.4% as a result of the air sanctions. A total of 159,063 border crossings from Russia were reported in the last month. Of these, 50,849 were transit visitors and 108,214 were tourists.

“The number of Russian tourists was 14.8% (18,851) less than in the same period of 2018,” the agency said.

In the first quarter of 2019, one Russian visitor spent an average of GEL 1135 ($386) on one visit to Georgia. According to these figures, Russian visitors are not among the citizens of the TOP 10 countries, the citizens of which spend more in Georgia.

The estimates of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) are similar to the GNTA calculations. The NBG said that in July 2019, the Georgian economy received $67 million income from Russian tourists. It added that Georgia received $111 million income from Russian tourists last year, which is $44 million less this July.

The National Bank calculates tourism revenue based on the types of visitors and how much they spend in the country.

“Tourists who arrive by plane usually spend more than others, and as the number of people arriving by plane declines, so does the income. If there was no travel ban, revenues from Russians in July would have been about $130 million,” the NBG said.

However, TBC Research has different estimations and says inflows in July dropped slightly YoY in the range of -5% to 0%, or from around -$20.0 million to 0 in absolute terms, when expressed in USD.

“Measured in EUR and GEL, the increase stood in the range of -1% to 4% and 11% to 17%, respectively,” the organization says.

It also says up to 5% growth of tourism inflows in USD terms over the next 12 months are set to be reasonable, with a 3.4% increase based on the updated information.

“This implies around 6% and 9% increase in FY 2019 and 2020. Without the flight ban, the growth would have been around 17% over the next 12 months and 15% and 16% for the FY 2019 and 2020,” said TBC Research.

Russian tourists amount to 25% of Georgia’s whole tourism market. TBC Research says despite the travel sanctions, the total number of visitors increased by 4.3% in July while the number of tourists was up by 1.0% over the same period. Non-tourism trips went up by 12.3% and the total number of travelers, including all types of visits of non-residents, increased by 5.8%.

By Thea Morrison

12 August 2019 15:58