New Developments Planned for Bakuriani this Winter

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava, and other government officials spoke from the ski resort town of Bakuriani on Wednesday, August 14. They announced significant investments in local infrastructure for the 2019-2020 winter sports season and beyond.

Bakhtadze and Turnava presided over the signing of a cooperative agreement between Austrian-Swiss Company Doppelmayr Garaventa Group and the Mountain Resorts Development Company of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, by which three new ropeways in the Didveli area of Bakuriani will be constructed.

The primary impetus for the construction is the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championship, which Georgia is hosting for the first time. Speaking to reporters, Bakhtadze emphasized, however, that while “as an ordinary Georgian, I am very proud that Georgia will host the 2023 Freestyle [Ski and Snowboard] World Championship,” the international event is not the only reason for the investment. His government has prioritized developing Georgia’s rural, often neglected mountain regions. Bakhtadze also expressed his gratitude that Georgia was selected to host the championship, noting that it is a significant victory for the country, that comes with significant responsibility. The selection, he said, indicates that the International Ski Federation trusts Georgia to implement the championship successfully and that Georgia’s international partners recognize national strategies towards of winter resort development.

Georgia has also applied to host the Youth Olympics in 2025, with the aim of helping the country gain experience and prepare for a more ambitious goal – to one day host the Winter Olympics. As Bakhtadze said: “Georgia and the Georgian nation deserve it.”

At the signing ceremony, Turnava also spoke to the assembled crowd, sharing her belief that the ropeway project signals a recognition of the great potential of Georgia’s many mountain resorts. The selection of Georgia for the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championship “is, however, a challenge and a major responsibility at the same time,” Turnava noted, adding that her “team is responding to this challenge with new large-scale constructions, development and major infrastructural projects.”

The Minister explained that “The construction of three new ropeways is the first project in our program to bring world-class international sporting events to Georgia. We plan to create additional infrastructure – new ski areas, a biathlon track, ice rinks, and it is also very important to rebuild the ski jump infrastructure that has been defunct for 40 years, and to restore this sport in [international ski jump champion] Koba Tsakadze’s homeland. We will be fully prepared to host the largest winter sports events in compliance with international standards.”

Over the weekend, the Municipal Development Fund of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia announced that the Bakuriani Bypass road is nearly completed. The new route takes drivers around the main resort complex and directly to the Didveli ski zone. It is designed to reduce congestion and traffic that clogs the narrow, icy roads of Bakuriani, which were never intended to see such a volume of vehicles. In recent years, traffic at the resort has increasingly worsened, making a ski vacation to the mountains feel more like a typical day in a Tbilisi rush hour traffic jam, and lowering the quality of life for locals. The bypass, at 3 km long, is planned to open this month. The construction began in the summer of 2018 and cost approximately 6 million GEL ($2.1 mln), financed by the European Investment Bank.

The Municipal Development Fund has investment a total of 55 million GEL ($18.8 mln) in infrastructure in Bakuriani leading up to the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championship.

By Samantha Guthrie

19 August 2019 17:15