Georgian PM: Spat with Russia costs Georgia’s tourism $60 million in July

Georgian PM: Spat with Russia costs Georgia’s tourism $60 million in July

Georgian Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, said on Monday that the losses of Georgia’s tourism industry in July amounted to about $60 million after the Russian authorities decided to impose a temporary ban on direct flights from Russia to Georgia.

“As of July, the damage to the tourism sector amounted to $60 million. However in June, a very good trend was registered in Adjara (the Black Sea region of Georgia) — tourism grew by 40% on the previous year. Today, it is important for us to support small and medium enterprises operating in the tourism sector,” Bakhtadze said.

On August 7, head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvirivishvili said that Georgia’s tourism industry had lost at least $44.3 million due to a drop in the number of Russian tourists in July.

According to official statistics, in July, Russian citizens made about 160,000 visits to Georgia, which is 6.4% fewer that in July 2018. Despite the recession, Russia managed to maintain its position on the list of 15 countries by the number of visits to Georgia this July, being ranked second.

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On June 20, 2019, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that the head of Russian delegation addressed the event from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue.

Shortly after the turmoil in Tbilisi, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said that nothing threatened Russian tourists in the country.

Nonetheless Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting on July 8, flights to Russia by Georgian airlines would be halted.