Georgian Tourism Administration Head Sums up 2019

Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) Head, Mariam Kvrivishvili, says that 2019 was full of difficulties for Georgia in terms of tourism and yet it hosted a record-number of visitors.

“9,357,964 international travelers visited Georgia in 2019, an increase of 7.8% compared to 2018. The number of international visitors amounted to 7,725,774, which is 7.3% more compared to 2018. The number of tourist visits was 5,080,478, which is 323,658 more than in 2018, an increase of 6.8%,” Kvrivishvili said.

She noted that most of the international visitors came from Azerbaijan (+7.2%), Russia (+4.8%), Armenia (+7.6%) and Turkey (+5.3%) and the positive trend was maintained by the EU countries.

Further, a significant increase in international visitors was seen from those countries where the GNTA conducted active marketing campaigns.

“We saw a significant increase in visitors from Germany +38.1%, Poland +32%, France +28.4%, the United Kingdom +27.5%, Netherlands +25.8% and others. Particular growth was observed from Uzbekistan +101.9%, Kyrgyzstan +99.6%, Kazakhstan +75.7%, China +50.9%, Saudi Arabia +44.9%, and Kuwait +34.7%,” she added.

The GNTA Head noted that 667,612 international travelers visited Georgia in December 2019, an increase of 16.4% year-on-year. The number of international visitors in that month totaled 534,732, an increase of 16.3%, while the number of tourist visits was 312,046, up by 41,821 compared to December 2018.

“In December 2019, most international visitors visited from Armenia (+25.8%), Azerbaijan (+8.8%), Turkey (+19.7%) and Russia (2.6%). According to preliminary data, Georgia received $3.3 billion revenue last year, which is 47 million more compared to 2018,” she noted.

To note, Georgian tourism was hit by a travel ban imposed by Russia in July 2019, following large-scale anti-Russian protests in the country. The ban affected airlines, travel agencies, hotels and hostels in various and in total the country saw a $300 million loss.

Kvrivishvili underlined that through the tireless work of the government and the private sector, it was still possible to jointly overcome the challenges facing the tourism sector.

“We have worked hard and in coordination with the private sector we developed an anti-crisis plan, and carried out many important activities, such as raising awareness of the country's tourism potential in the target markets, creating high quality tourism products, improving service quality and attracting new investment. As a result, by the end of 2019, the Georgian tourism industry was at a historic high,” she said, adding that in 2020, the agency is to continue active marketing campaigns and activities to raise awareness of the country, increase tourism and income, and promote employment.

“Our goal is to diversify tourism, enter new markets, attract high-cost tourists, and to create new tourism products to support businesses involved in the tourism industry and job seekers,” she said.

As for the challenges of the current year, Kvrivishvili said infrastructure improvements and lack of qualified staff remain the main issues.

"The tourism administration has to create a lot of opportunities for people to get jobs because it is a big industry and we need more professionals and more education programs. In 2019, we launched a large-scale project in the mountains, in which more than 2,000 people were trained in professional tourism throughout Georgia for free. In 2020, this project will be given more scope," she noted.

Kvrivishvili confirmed negotiations with Ryanair and other airlines will be ongoing in 2020, as will bringing influencers, well-known journalists and world leaders to experience Georgia.

By Tea Mariamidze

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13 January 2020 16:49