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Georgia Tourism Strategy

Georgia’s new tourism strategy forecasts 2.5 million visitors

Mamuka Tsereteli and Scott Wayne  Mar 24, 2008

On March 12th, the Georgian Department of Tourism and Resorts introduced a new tourism strategy for the country called The Georgian Way. Developed and presented by the Washington, DC-based America-Georgia Business Council (AGBC) and tourism consulting firm SW Associates, the strategy is forecasting an increase of 150 percent in international tourism arrivals, and over US$1 billion in export earnings by 2015.

“The Georgian Way provides the most comprehensive strategy we have ever had. Launching this strategy is a boost to Georgian tourism and will really help place us solidly on the map of international destinations,” Otar Bubashvili, chairman of the Georgian Department of Tourism and Resorts, said. “We have already begun implementing several of the recommendations.”

The Georgian Way, funded by the US Trade and Development Agency, sets several performance targets for tourism growth. In the strategy, we forecast 2.5 million international visitors to Georgia by 2015, an increase of 150 percent over the 1 million visitors in 2007. Tourist expenditures are expected to grow 351 percent by 2015 based on arrivals growth of 167 percent. Overall expenditures per visitor will increase from €308 in 2006 to €443 by 2015, a 44 percent increase.

In addition, it is estimated that at least 33,000 new direct jobs can be created in tourism and over US$1 billion in export earnings generated. And 60,000 jobs would be created in the sectors that supply the tourism industry, such as in furniture, construction, food and beverages, security systems and many others.

The Georgian Way
The Georgian Way focuses on tourism that makes the most of Georgia’s cultural and natural assets, a National Geographic Geotourism type of approach that provides ideas and guidance for developing and marketing Georgian tourism: “Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place.”

A central part of the marketing approach recommended in the strategy is to encourage long haul and European visitors to Turkey to extend their visits into Georgia. Turkey received, for example, more than 600,000 Americans in 2007. By persuading 2.5 percent or 15,000 of this total to extend their visits from Turkey to Georgia, the number of Americans visiting Georgia would double.

To implement The Georgian Way, the Strategy offers six key Objectives with extensive recommended immediate and long term strategies and actions covering attractions and experiences, marketing and promotion, destination management, workforce development, leadership and management, and financial resources and investment. The Strategy also includes an action plan for assessing economic impact, policy reform recommendations and tourism investment incentives.

[Mamuka Tsereteli is the executive director of America-Georgia Business Council and Scott Wayne is the president of SW Associates.]

Georgia’s new tourism strategy forecasts 2.5 million visitors

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