|Batumi Getting Ready to Host 1.5 Million Tourists|
|Monday, 04 April 2011|
Written by Nina Burjanadze
The FINANCIAL -- The number of tourists visiting Georgia’s Black Sea region of Adjara in 2011 is supposedly going to reach 1,500,000, Vaja Diasamidze Deputy Chief of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, told The FINANCIAL. Preparations to host such a huge number of people have already been started. Plans include improvement of infrastructure, arrangement of new recreation zones in Batumi and in some of the other regions of Adjara too.
This year the first bike-taxis will appear on the streets of Batumi. Special stations will be accepting credit cards.
“We are already organizing bike lanes. The prices haven’t been established yet, though we are trying to make them as affordable as possible. The service will substitute the use of municipal transport to a certain extent,” said Diasamidze.
In 2010 more than 900,000 tourists visited Ajara. This year significant growth of visitor numbers is expected not only of those from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran, but also from Israel, Poland, Ukraine , Belarus, the Baltic States and European countries. As for Georgian holidaymakers, the Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara reports that the largest share come from Kutaisi and Rustavi as well as from the capital.
“The majority of Georgian tourists come from Tbilisi . There are some from other regions too, but still Tbilisi is the major one,” noted Zviad Eliziani, Chairman of the International Business Development and Investment Promotion Centre (IBDIPC).
In May we will start to operate new train lines - Batumi-Baku and Batumi-Azerbaijan. At the same time we will launch bus services between Batumi-Turkey and Batumi-Iran. What’s more charter airlines will be organised with Israel, Iran and Ukraine . As the Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara states, flights between Tbilisi -Batumi will also restart operations, though the prices of the tickets haven’t yet been estimated.
According to Diasamidze ticket prices for trains and buses won’t increase more than in 2010. However airline prices will decrease in comparison to last year. Batumi-Yerevan ticket prices ranged from 14 USD to 58 USD and Batumi-Baku from 29 USD to 90 USD.
Georgians often complain that prices are really inflated in Batumi and therefore often prefer to go to comparatively better value resorts abroad.
“Prices are generally high in Batumi, I agree. If we compare the vacation package price for Batumi to that for Antalya (in Turkey) a tourist can get better offers in Antalya, more value for money, compared to in Adjara. I think there will be the same tendency this year,” said Eliziani.
“When I go to Batumi, I pay great attention to the prices. The location of the hotel or apartment is also very important. Some of them have accessible prices but are situated very far from the coast. It would be perfect if a hotel had its own strip of coastline, but usually such hotels are very expensive. As a young person I find entertainment another important factor, both during the daytime and at night. I think the prices are relatively high in Batumi, especially in comparison to Turkey. If they decrease prices then I’m sure more visitors will go to Adjara this year,” said Irakli, 25.
According to Diasamidze they don’t expect more increases in any price segments due to increasing competition between companies in the region. As he added, in spite of soaring prices on the world market there have not been any drastic changes in the prices of restaurants in Batumi. The Government of Adjara will try to keep the tendency by supplying more local agriculture products in comparison to last year.
“Parallel to the increase of competition this summer season, the volatility of prices has also decreased in comparison to last year. Visitors will have the opportunity to dine out in restaurants for 20-30 GEL per person. The price of a deck-chair will start from 1 USD this summer. A parachute and yacht will cost approximately 25 USD in the high season. As for hotels and guesthouses, there are plenty of them located along the coastline of the whole of Adjara. The prices of the hotels range from 30 USD to 150 USD per night. You can also find hotels, apartments or guest houses, where a person has only to pay from 15 USD to 50 USD per night. It is possible to find apartments at cheaper prices, although they won’t satisfy those with high standards for obvious reasons. As well as such famous hotels as the Radisson BLU Hotel and Hyatt, many other new hotels and guesthouses will start running by the summer 2011,” said Diasamidze.
The Department of Tourism and Resorts of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara promises tourists that in 2011 there will be a more varied entertainment industry, including more restaurants, nightclubs, concerts and festivals as well. Among them will be festivals, exhibitions and shows, which envisage free attendance for tourists.
“BIAFF will be held in September - 17-24 September, 2011. Right now we are working on the festival’s programme and as usual we will offer spectators a very interesting collection of films. There will be several sections of the programme, these are: the International competition (Feature, Documentary and Short films showed separately with an international jury); Silk Road section (films from the Caucasus, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia etc.); Master collection (the latest films of famous filmmakers) etc. The BIAFF festival has free access; every cinema lover can attend the event and workshops/master classes planned during the festival for free,” added Eliziani.
“Tourists in Batumi will have the possibility to purchase plenty of new souvenirs which will be more specific to the Adjara region. There will also be city tour buses with guides within the city and new tourist information agencies at the service of visitors. We will not only offer guides but also a tourist rescue service, which will help visitors find their way through busy places if lost. They will also control the cleanliness of the coastline and secure use of all entertainment aqua equipment,” Diasamidze said.
The Government of Adjara is now repairing the whole of its underground infrastructure including water pipes, and the sewage system. This reconstruction process has been somewhat uncomfortable for visitors. As Diasammidze says, the process is almost finished especially along the coastline and from May there won’t be any problems with transport systems within the city.
“The reconstruction works going on in the city (water system, sewage system etc.) will probably take another 2 years to fully finalize,” said Eliziani.
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