An interview with Director of the National Tourism Administration George Sigua.
Tourist season was officially opened in Georgia.Is the country ready for tourist flow?
Summer season is already in full swing. It is already July, and the summer season is approaching peak. With regard to infrastructure, the overall situation is satisfactory, although there is a shortage of hotels. An influx of tourists on the Black Sea coast is significant. On the one hand, this is a problem because there are not enough rooms in hotels, on the other – it’s an incentive for investors to invest in the construction of new hotels.
What about the “Kazantip” festival that will be held in late August in Anaklia? Is Georgia ready for such a festival, and how successful will it be?
During the summer a lot of festivals will take place in Georgia – a festival of electronic music will be held in Tbilisi, in late July Jazz Festival in Batumi, on August 15 a three-day festival with the participation of European artists will take place in Batumi. On August 20 -30 a very interesting and big project will take place in Anaklia. It is not yet entirely clearwho will take part in it. Organizers have already developed a serious program. We are talking aboutapproximately 100 best DJs who will take part.
Now local people are doing everything to meet festival in readiness – for example, many people repair their houses for rent. At the moment, demand is higher than offer, but this just gives an incentive to renovate and build something new, etc. We want the Black Sea region of Samegrelo became a center of youth tourism, and perhaps Kazantipwould be a great stimulus. It should also be noted that thanks to the festival, Anaklia will be in the focus of foreign media, andthis in turn will also attract investors.
What is the function of the Department of Standardization at the Ministry of Economy in regard to tourism?
First of all, improvement of the service quality. This is problematic for Georgia. When the country isvisited by millions of tourists and their numbers will further grow, new hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, etc should be open, respectively, everything should meet quality standards in order tourists to leave our country satisfied.
Department of Standardization stimulates the improvement of service quality, for example, carries out English learning courses for taxi drivers.
What funds have been allocated in 2014 for marketing and promotion of Georgia as an international resort?
In 2014, GEL 8. 9 million were allocated for these purposes. This amount includes marketing campaigns, participation in international exhibitions, press tours, etc. We participate in many tourist exhibitions and carry out advertising campaign in some countries – the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Poland.
The Ukrainian “Forbes” writes that from January to May 2014 up to 50 000 tourists from Ukraine have already visited Georgia that is 27% more than in the same period of 2013. What is the reason for this and do you expect a further growth in the number of tourists from this country?
In Ukraine, we conduct a large-scale ad campaign, negotiate with the airlines. Of course, events in the Crimea played a big role. Each year, about 4 million Ukrainians went to rest inthe Crimea which is now closed for obvious reasons. If Georgia can get even 1% of this flow, it is about40 000 tourists.
This may cause a lack of hotels, although now many owners of small hotels build out additional roomsto be able to receive tourists. With regard to tourism infrastructure, in Georgia it is not worse than in other post-Soviet countries.
As it is known, the Georgian government has tightened the visa regime for 120 countries,mainly Asian. Will it have an impact on the flow of tourists?
The visa regime has not been imposed on any country that ranks among the top tourist partners of Georgia – Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Germany, and others. So, almost100% of tourists arriving in the country will not feel the tightening of the regime.
But there are Asian countries, such as Iran.
As far as I know, no tightening was introduced – citizens of this country can get visa at the airport without any problem.