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New tourist season is under threat

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 14
2009 will be a very difficult year for tourism throughout the world due to the global financial crisis. The situation in Georgia will be even more dramatic because of the damage done to the country’s image by the Russian aggression in August, which has now even further deteriorated thanks to the protest rallies which began on April 9. Tourists mostly start planning their holidays sometime at the beginning of spring,i.e. at around this time, and as international news coverage shows thousands and thousands of people standing in front of Parliament, blocking the streets and so on there can be no question that Georgia’s image is very far from desirable.

The protest rallies, although they are on a smaller scale, have also affected the Adjara region. Tour operators and people involved in tourist agencies are very much concerned that if the protests are not stopped quickly the tourist business will be dead for yet another season. In 2009 Adjara plans to host more than 400,000 holidaymakers in summer. Over the last two years more than USD 200 million has been invested in the tourist business, new hotels have been built and old ones reconstructed and renovated. A different type of utilities infrastructure has also been introduced, including a switch system and an improved water supply.

From August last year onwards tourist inflow has dramatically decreased or stopped completely, so it is very difficult to foretell how many incoming tourists the country will attract. There are several reasons for this, the world financial crisis, instability in the country and inadequately high prices for hotels and services being among them. The Adjara Tourism Department thinks that tourists will not come from Western countries but maybe from Azerbaijan, the Baltic countries, Ukraine and Armenia.