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Tourists not at the expense of security

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 11
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has stated that Georgia welcomes tourists from all nations, but this does not mean the state agencies responsible for security should be prevented or hindered from fulfilling their obligations appropriately.

The comment came after a long post of an Indian woman on the Internet, who visited Georgia as a tourist several days ago and was deported after a nine-hour wait in Georgia’s chief airport.

The 32-year-old Khushbu Kaushal wrote about the ill-treatment by immigration officers and said that Georgia had disappointed her.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs stated over that people are allowed or not allowed into Georgia by taking international security standards into account.

“We welcome tourists from India, China, our neighboring countries, Europe, the US and Asia, but state agencies have a clear discretion to protect our country's interests,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said.

"We have taken a number of steps to increase the number of tourists. In all countries there are immigration and naturalization services, which, on separate cases, make negative decisions based on the information received from various state agencies,” he added.

The PM added that Georgia is a very liberal country in this direction and it is very important for Georgia to maintain its positive dynamic in tourism flows.

“After three hours of my arrival to Tbilisi I was not yet given any information or attended to, so I went to ask for my status and was then told that I am being sent back. When I requested a reason, I was shouted at and told to sit in a corner,” the Indian woman wrote in a letter dedicated to Georgia’s Ambassador to India, Archil Dzuliashvili.

She wrote she had to spend hours in the airport without being offered food or drink.

“Seven hours after arrival in your country, I was allowed to buy food and water and asked to sit in a room so that other passengers shouldn't get a look at how people are really treated by your immigration,” she said.

Kaushal said she wanted to check what might be the reason of “sudden hatred” towards Indians, considering in 2015 the tourism from Indian sector to Georgia had increased by 80 percent.

In the statement Kaushal maintained that in her opinion “discontent” of immigration officers was caused by the fact that Indian farmers had been invited by the Georgian government to come and cultivate the lands in Georgia.

Georgia’s civil sector is demanding an investigation of the incident.

Official data reads that 6,517 citizens of India crossed Georgia’s border this year.