Agro Tourism - new tourism product in Georgia. აგრო ტურიზმი - ახალი ტურისტული პროდუქტი საქართველოში

Agro Tourism - new tourism product in Georgia. აგრო ტურიზმი - ახალი ტურისტული პროდუქტი საქართველოში
28 May 2015

The demand of city dwellers to get away from noisy urban life to a calm environment with fresh air is increasing rapidly in Georgia. In response, the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) is working on a new field to popularize agro tourism in the country.

Ketevan Zurashvili, the Main Specialist at the Tourism Product and Small Infrastructure Development Division at GNTA, explains that agro tourism is a type of tourism when a small group of travellers journeys to villages and remote traditional communities in order to get acquainted with local lifestyle, culture and traditions. “Rural tourism, the combination of agro and farm tourism, was developed as an independent tourism product in Europe in the late 20th century and leader countries of the field formed - Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, Cyprus and Greece. Georgia is special in this direction due to its geographical location, regional diversity, culture, and hospitality,” she continues, adding that this field is one of the priorities of the GNTA.

One of the advantages of agro tourism, besides encountering local customs,
is that it is relatively cheap while you live in 14-15th century farm house and eat organic products, homemade cheese, bacon, freshly boiled sheep and such Georgian meals as mtsvadi, khinkali, khachapuri and drink local wine. Tourists can participate in harvesting, vintage season, making churchkhela or
cheese, baking khachapuri or a tone bread to name a few of the available activities.

“International experience has shown that the development of agro tourism is possible on the basis of existing infrastructure together with beautiful landscapes, cultural and historical sites, ex-
cellent wine and the diversity of local cuisine,” she said, adding that agro tourism is a full-year project which helps the development and well-being of Georgia’s rural areas.

After carrying out the project, Zurashvili expects that Georgia will have tourist infrastructure in rural areas, tourism flow throughout the year, and newly created jobs in rural areas, a stop in the migration process, an increase in the living standards of the rural population and the creation a diversified tourist segment.

According to her, in order to increase domestic tourism potential, together with the increase of foreign tourists, the GNTA has implemented new activities. Agro tourism allows the visitor to stay with a family which owns a small farm and who provides all the minimum necessities for the comfort of the traveller and where guests are encouraged to try various activities such as fishing or horse riding.

Zurashvili notes that the Administration has carried out a study in Guria region in order to understand the agro tourism potential. The research revealed that 60 venues are ready to host visitors and,
in order to be able to receive tourists, the GNTA, with the help of non-governmental organizations, selected a couple of families and trained them in the service sector. Additionally, a similar survey was conducted on the outskirts of Tbilisi that showed 20 venues to be perfect for such a project - places where you can enjoy your weekends away from the hustle and bustle.

“Non-governmental organization GIZ has created a project for Utseri village located in the Racha region and aims to develop rural tourism and increase the flow of domestic tourists. It should also be noted that Heifer International Georgia, with the finances of the European Union, is implementing a project “assisting innovative villages in the Black Sea region” and involves Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Within the framework of the project, four countries support the idea of creating a rural tourism network with their own resources, as well as promoting their products. A strong regional partnership and cooperation resulted in a database where 90 venues of agro tourism from Georgia are enlisted,” explained Zurashvili.

Georgia Today