14 Aug 2019 18:31

Georgian PM pledges assistance to tourist industry

TBILISI. Aug 14 (Interfax) - The Georgian government has a plan how to regain the upward trend in the tourist industry, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze told the press on Wednesday.

"Our policy for the tourist sector was highly effective, which was proven by statistical information. Adjaria alone saw a 40% year-on-year surge in tourism in the first half of this year. Unfortunately, things changed in July, and preliminary estimates show that the tourist sector missed profit of about $60 million," Bakhtadze said.

Revenue of hotels, restaurants, and travel guides did not meet their expectations, he said.

"Of course, it's a problem. Yet the government has developed and started implementing measures, which will support the tourist industry," Bakhtadze said.

Russian and Georgian airlines were banned from performing direct flights between the two countries on July 8, 2019, after bilateral relations exacerbated. Tour operators and agents were recommended not to sell tours involving transportation to Georgia.

According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Russian tourist arrivals in Georgia saw the first-ever year-on-year decline by 6.4%, to 159,100 in July 2019. Nonetheless, 14.5% of 1,099,500 tourists who visited Georgia in July came from Russia.

Georgia was expecting all-time biggest tourist arrivals, including about 1 million Russian tourists, in 2019.

As many as 4,961,900 tourists visited Georgia in January-July 2019, which was 10.3% more than the year before. The country saw 850,700 tourists from Russia, or 22.1% more than in January-July 2018.