Georgia is poised to receive a large number of travelers from Gulf countries, particularly Qatar, a senior Georgian official has said.
Speaking a group of 16 travel professionals who arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi from Qatar a few days ago, George Chogovadze, head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, said the Eurasian country expected a growth in the number of tourist visitors from the Gulf region on account of the visa-on-arrival facility available for GCC residents.
The local tour operators had gone there on a joint invitation from the Georgian National Tourism Administration and a GCC-based airline.
The fact that Georgia has a very low crime rate, makes it a favored destination for tourists, many of whom are repeating their tours to the country, Chogovadze said while interacting with the tour operators in Old Tbilisi.
He said the availability of rooms and other facilities at competitive rates, as compared to several other countries in the region, would help Georgia attract more tourists from the Gulf states.
Rooms at standard hotels are available from $60-70 (including breakfast) in Tbilisi. With the exception of December and January, when it gets really cold, Georgia receives tourists all through the year, according to tourist department information. In winter, the country gets visitors for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The senior official said in view of the expected growth in tourist numbers to Georgia, efforts are on to develop further facilities at the airport in Tbilisi, where works worth millions of dollars have been carried out over the past three years. Compared to the previous year, there was a nearly 11% growth in the number of tourists to Georgia in 2015.
The official felt there was little awareness about his country among Gulf residents until a few years ago.
“I feel that even now, many Gulf residents have the idea that Georgia is quite far from the Gulf region even though the journey time between Tbilisi and most of the GCC states is only 3-3.5 hours,” said Chogovadze.
Qatar, is special to Georgia as it is the only GCC country to have an embassy in Georgia, announced Chogovadze. Also, Qatar is home to one of only three Georgian embassies in the Gulf region (the others are in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait).
Chogovadze also recalled that events held at Katara – the Cultural Village, featuring artistes and other cultural professionals from Georgia, received a good response from this country’s residents.
“The cultural festival, featuring some of our well-known stage artistes, and an art exhibition held under the aegis of the Georgian Arts and Culture Centre drew a number of visitors,” the official noted.
Chogovadze also had a word of praise for his country’s envoy to Doha, Ekaterine Meiring, who he said has been instrumental in making Georgia and its tourist and cultural venues more popular among the residents of Qatar.
Replying to a query from Gulf Times, Chogovadze said while Georgia’s total population is 4.5mn, the country received more than 2.5mn visitors in 2015.
Chogovadze said, that in addition to being home to several leisure, archaeological and heritage spots, his country also has “excellent facilities for health education”.
“A large number of students from the Gulf region, India and Far-East are pursuing studies at our universities, mainly Tbilisi State University, which offers some of the best-known academic programmes in medicine,” he said.
The medical education programs at Tbilisi are attractive “both on account of their affordability and good ratings at the international level”.
The standard of communicative English in Georgia is also good and most youths are well-versed in the language.
Source: Gulf Times