|Georgia Seeks to Double Tourist Visits; 1 Million Seen in 2010|
|July 12, 2010|
By Helena Bedwell
July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Georgia expects to attract 1 million tourists this year as the former Soviet republic of 4.4 million people seeks to boost economic growth following a recession that lasted more than a year, the economy and sustainable development minister said.
“I’m working on ways to boost tourism further by bringing low-cost airlines to Georgia, building more hotels and improving roads,” Vera Kobalia, 28, said in an interview in the capital Tbilisi today. “Our goal is to double the number of visitors.”
Tourism accounts for no more than 5 percent of Georgia’s gross domestic product, which shrank 3.9 percent last year to $10.7 billion, Kobalia said. The number of visitors has begun to increase since Georgia’s five-day war with neighboring Russia in 2008, when tourism’s share of GDP fell to 3.6 percent, according to Statistics Georgia.
Georgia’s economy suffered about $1 billion of damage in the war over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.
Georgia later won pledges of $4.55 billion of international aid, including $1 billion from the U.S. Russia later recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent countries.
Kobalia, who was confirmed as minister earlier this month, was born in Abkhazia. Her family fled the region during a civil war in the early 1990s and moved to Canada, where she earned a business degree from British Columbia University. She holds Canadian in addition to Georgian citizenship.
Georgia’s Adjara region on the Black Sea, the heart of its tourism industry, forecasts 800,000 visits this year, an increase of 250 percent from a year earlier, regional government chief Levan Varshalomidze said in an interview in the port city of Batumi late yesterday.
“The Adjara region is thriving,” Varshalomidze said.
“We expect tourists to spend as much as $1,000 each during their stays.”
|< Prev||Next >|