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Battle for a million tourists

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 13
Tourism is acknowledged as one of the most successful business segments worldwide. In many countries tourism is the number one sector, attracting millions of dollars.

Since it regained its independence Georgia has been trying to get its slice of the tourism business. After the Rose Revolution tourism became one of the biggest priorities of the country and some steps were made in that direction, however in 1998 the Shevardnadze administration had already outlined the strategic development of the tourist business in Georgia.

Unfortunately for the country the Russian aggression of last year frustrated Georgia’s plans considerably. Georgia’s target was to attract a minimum of one million holidaymakers annually, as in Soviet times the number of tourists visiting Georgia from other parts of the USSR exceeded one million. In 2005 the number of holidaymakers in Georgia was over half a million, in 2006 it was very close to a million and in 2007 the magic figure of a million tourists was finally achieved. The country’s leadership optimistically believed numbers would increase further in the coming years but the August war and world economic crisis have made tourism development even more difficult for Georgia.

There are different reasons for the current slowdown in Georgia’s tourist business. Of course the August war and continual speculation that it might be repeated have damaged the country’s image considerably. It should also be said that plane tickets to Georgia are not cheap at all. There are special tourist charter flights elsewhere which offer better value. Hotel owners very often charge inappropriate prices for the services they render, and the world economic crisis has damaged tourism all over the world.

Economic analysts detect a direct connection between economic growth and tourist sphere growth. At present the Georgian Government is still supporting the sector, hoping that this country with lots of attractive places and sights will recover soon.