1 Aug 2023 13:13

Georgia to lose $1 bln a year without Russian tourists - Georgian ruling party leader Kobakhidze

TBILISI. Aug 1 (Interfax) - A ban on entry of Russian tourists to Georgia, on which the radical opposition is insisting, would inflict about $1 billion in damage on the country, Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of Georgia's ruling party Georgian Dream, said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

"The radical opposition's irresponsible demand would cause very serious damage to the Georgian economy. If Russian tourists don't visit the country, the Georgian economy would lose $1 billion a year, while our entire economy is $30 billion," Kobakhidze said.

Radical opposition members attempted to stage an act of provocation against Russian tourists visiting Batumi on board a cruise liner on Monday, he said.

"This provocation was aimed at Georgia's political and economic interests. Each such cruise voyage adds 350,000 lari [$170,000] in income to our economy. This is not huge money, but if the opposition could cause damage amounting to 350 million lari to the country, it would resort to that," Kobakhidze said.

The opposition's protest demonstration at the Batumi port on Monday showed that most Georgians did not support it, he said.

"The opposition managed to gather only 150 of its activists from all over Georgia and bring them to Batumi, which says it all," Kobakhidze said.

About 200 Georgian opposition activists protested at the Batumi port on Monday against the call of the Astoria Grande cruise ship with Russian tourists on board. Demonstrators pelted buses leaving the port with tourists with eggs and plastic bottles. Police detained 23 offenders.