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Saakashvili claims new Anaklia resort can be Europe's best

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, August 24
On August 22 the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili spoke of Anaklia as “the newest and most beautiful resort in Georgia and Europe.” Praising Anaklia for having the ”best weather all around the Black Seaside” the President recollected how he had first visited the place five years ago by accident. Remembering how scared local people used to be in Anaklia in previous times Saakashvili announced that Georgia is among the countries with the lowest levels of crime in Europe. “Instead of responding to Russia's military buildup in Abkhazia with defensive trenches, Georgia has chosen a different path by developing spa resorts just next to a wall dividing the breakaway region from the rest of Georgia,” Saakashvili said supposing that many countries might have responded in different ways “in order to stop further invasion from the enemy”.

The President mentioned the great problems Georgia has faced during its long history emphasizing that “the country could always stand up for itself.” “Georgia always used to have traitors which are still often seen on TV but our country also had and will still have heroes,” President Saakashvili said stressing that most of our conquerors are not remembered in history while “Georgia would always remain here - behind the artificially constructed border.”

Predicting that Anaklia would become one of the greatest resorts in the region Saakashvili compared the Hotel Golden Fleece with the large hotels of Gulf states, the USA and “other leading wealthy countries.” Stressing that the current Government creates everything for the purpose of leaving a better country to its future generations the President praised Georgians as “people with a special gift” who love their country so much that can construct things even without ”gas, oil and half a billion population.”

Sharing his plans with the audience Saakashvili announced the construction of a new motorway from October 2011. The new motorway across the Black Seaside coast would make it possible for travelers to drive from Anaklia to Poti in 15 minutes and to Batumi in 50 minutes by car. Claiming that there were only 120 000 tourists in Georgia before the Rose Revolution, Saakashvili welcomed the increasing trend in recent years and forecast that Anaklia alone would host 200,000 tourists by 2013 and about 400,000 by 2015; while the number of tourists visiting the country according to the President would reach 7-8 millions as a whole. “We have great plans for future but what we want most of all is peace!” he added.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili called President Saakashvili’s speech “insipid rhetoric.” Finding it difficult to compare Anaklia with the worldwide resorts, Khukhashvili explained that Anaklia does not have a competitive climate, services and prices at present. Calling it a new example of the “facade change policy” the analyst spoke of the “virtual welfare scenario” which the Georgian President has created around him. “The situation in the country beyond these facades is quite dramatic while our President talks of his bravery in a very infantile way,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger.

Doubting the tourist potential of the new resort the analyst wondered whether the tourists would be attracted to a place which is so close to the “conditional enemies.” “I don’t think there can be any danger [from the soldiers in Abkhazia] but tourists don’t very much enjoy the seaside resorts with high political risks. Besides that, why should they go to Anaklia when they can enjoy their free time in Antalya [Turkey],” Khukhashvili wondered.