Tourism Administration almost doubles expenditure on country’s promotion abroad. საზღვარგარეთ საქართველოს ტურიზმის ეროვნული ადმინისტრაცია ქვეყნის პოპულარიზაციისათვის ორმაგად ხარჯავს

Tourism Administration almost doubles expenditure on country’s promotion abroad. საზღვარგარეთ საქართველოს ტურიზმის ეროვნული ადმინისტრაცია ქვეყნის პოპულარიზაციისათვის ორმაგად ხარჯავს
23 March 2015

The FINANCIAL -- The Georgian National Tourism Administration will spend GEL 7,800,000 on the country’s advertisement abroad in 2015, up from the GEL 4,400,000 of 2014. Despite political and economic instability, Ukraine and Russia remain the target countries for the administration. The European Youth Olympic Festival, UEFA Super Cup, EBRD annual meeting and business forum - events that will be hosted by Georgia in 2015, make the country’s administration optimistic about a potentially active flow of tourists coming into the country this year.

Georgia ended 2014 with a record number of international travellers, totalling 5,493,492, or 2%, more than in the previous year. During the first two months of 2015 Georgia has been visited by 600,396 international travellers, 2.1% less than in the same period of last year. Political and economic instability in the region, in particular the conflict in Ukraine and later-imposed US and EU sanctions over Russia, has been the main reason for this reduction.

“Despite the minor decrease of international travellers in January and February of 2015, GNTA is very optimistic about the current year. Our activities are aimed at the growth of the tourism sector. In this direction we are actively cooperating with all state bodies,” Giorgi Chogovadze, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), told The FINANCIAL.

“In 2015 Georgia is expecting a big flow of tourists. Several international events will be held in the country this year, including the European Youth Olympic Festival and UEFA Super Cup. In addition, for the first time in the history of the Caucasus, the EBRD annual meeting and business forum will take place in Tbilisi. We are awaiting high-ranking guests, businessman and government delegations. All of this will further increase people’s awareness of Georgia as a tourist destination,” said Chogovadze.

In his words, since tourism revenue is directly related to the number of tourists, the revenue from tourism is also expected to grow.

Q. The number of international travellers to Georgia has dropped slightly in 2015. Instability and economic difficulties in neighbouring countries were the main reasons for this reduction. However, the statistical data for January of the current year shows that the number of travellers from Azerbaijan has increased by almost 12% and from Turkey - has slumped by 13%. What are the reasons behind these figures?

A. External factors, like the currency crisis, difficult political situation in the region and economic processes, all led to the reduction of international travellers to Georgia.

In January 2015 the number of arrivals from Azerbaijan indeed grew by 12%, in comparison with the same period of the previous year. However, in-depth analysis shows that the increase has resulted from transit (+ 9.6%) and one-day visits (22.2%). This is down to the large number of the ethnic Azeri population of Georgia (7% of the total population). So, this segment can be assumed to be behind the growth of the one-day visitors. Trade relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey are also increasing the number of international entries to Georgia for transit purposes.

Q. The main flow of foreign tourists to Georgia is from post-Soviet countries. Considering the current instability in the region, which countries will you be targeting in terms of marketing activities?

A. Despite the crisis and instability in the region, tourism administration keeps promoting Georgia on its major markets: Ukraine and Russia. In addition, campaigns will be carried out this year in our neighbouring countries Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as Belarus, Israel, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Hungary. These countries will be selected in line with the number of tourists to Georgia and direct flights.

Q. What will be the expenditure of the administration on marketing and advertising campaigns in 2015?

A. GEL 7,800,000 will be spent on the country’s advertisement abroad this year. The number was GEL 4,400,000 in 2014.

Promotional activities will be selected in accordance with the travel features of specific countries. The main focus will be put on TV, internet, outdoor and printed commercials. We are also actively using international social networks in order to enhance awareness of the country and demonstrate its touristic potential.

Q. During economic difficulties many officials eschew spending their vacations abroad and instead prefer to spend them in their home countries. Are you applying the same initiative and calling on Georgian officials to spend their vacations in Georgia?

A. I recommend this not only for officials, but everyone, to holiday in Georgia. Internal tourism is one of the main components of the development of this sector. Unfortunately, we frequently hear that we, Georgians, have not well-discovered our own country. In all honesty Georgia has amazing potential. This is a rare country that offers four-season travel. An amazing Black Sea coast; mountainous resorts Svaneti, Tusheti, Khevsureti, and Ushguli - which is the highest inhabited place in Europe; winter resorts Bakuriani, Gudauri and Mestia; traditional sanatorium resort places Borjomi and Tskaltubo; caves, canyons, historical-cultural places - it is really hard to list all the reasons to visit Georgia. The attractiveness of this country is that it can suit anybody of any individual interests. Georgia is the best destination for adventure tourism, pilgrimages, or even for those who are simply looking for a calming time.

Q. Where do you plan to spend your vacation and which places do you recommend visiting?

A. Due to the great touristic potential of Georgia I recommend that foreign as well as domestic tourists choose Georgia. There are lots of things to visit in our country. Impressions made of Georgia will be unforgettable for everyone. As for me, I am planning to spend my holidays with my family in Batumi and Borjomi.

Madona Gasanova, The FINANCIAL