|Georgia Expects 5 Million Tourists a Year by 2015, Kobalia Says|
|May 13, 2011|
By Helena Bedwell
The Georgian government forecasts an annual influx of as many as 5 million tourists, more than the Black Sea country’s population, by 2015, the economy and sustainable development minister said.
Georgia attracted 675,000 visitors through April, up 43 percent from the year-earlier period, Vera Kobalia said in an interview today in the capital Tbilisi. For the full year 2010, the former Soviet republic drew more than 2 million visitors, the highest total since 2003, when President Mikheil Saakashvili swept to power in the Rose Revolution.
“More tourists will mean more long-term jobs across Georgia,” Kobalia said. The Georgian National Investment Agency has been successful in finding investors interested in taking part in the construction of a Black Sea resort at Anaklia, which has been designated a special economic zone, she said.
Tourism accounts for no more than 5 percent of Georgia’s gross domestic product, Kobalia said on July 12. The economy expanded 6.4 percent last year to $11.7 billion, according to the statistics office.
Georgia’s population was 4.4 million as of January 2010, according to the statistics office.
Saakashvili told businessmen late yesterday that the government plans to spend $700 million this year on roads and infrastructure to boost tourism.
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