More efforts to bring in the tourists
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, January 13The Georgian Tourism Association (GTA) presented the results of the Ecological Awards Project programme “Sustainable Tourism Development in Protected Areas of Georgia” on January 11. The programme was supported by British Petroleum (BP) on behalf of its Oil and Gas co-partners and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and is conducted in cooperation with the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia (APA).
Nata Kvachantiradze, GTA Director, thanked all the partner organisations for their support in fulfilling all the activities aimed at promoting Georgian protected territories. Soso Mekvevrishvili, Project Coordinator, outlined all the work the project had done. “We undertook various activities as part of the project such as workshops and school camps and producing printing materials and video clips to encourage tourists to visit Georgia,” he stated. “We still have lots of plans for the future. Most of our projects will be adventurous. We want to promote Dusheti and Samtskhe-Javakheti so that more tourists can see their beauty. We will produce leaflets and video clips with the support of children to help develop the region,” Mekvevrishvili told The Messenger.
Head of the Agency of Protected Areas Giorgi Shonvadze stressed the importance of sustainable tourism development as a path to prosperity. “The Ecological Awards Project was very important for our country. About 7% of our entire territory consists of protected areas. I should highlight how Algeti National Park was established by the GTA. We will continue our cooperation with the Association and plan to undertake more activities in 2010,” Shonvadze stated.
Beka Jakeli, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Department of Tourism and Resorts, stressed that the project aimed to raise the interest of local and international society in Georgian nature. “Sustainable development is a very important key to successful development. We aim to promote our country in economic, ecological and social-ethnic ways. Cooperation between the Government and the NGO sector is a guarantee of success,” Jakeli told the guests.
“The Sustainable Tourism Development in Protected Areas of Georgia was sponsored by BP and its partner companies. This programme fulfils educational and cognitive projects aimed at attracting more tourist attention to the protected areas of Georgia. EPF administers the money provided by donor organisations for this purpose, which was USD 300,000 in 2009. GTA was the one of the five organisations which won the competition for a grant. This project is important for Georgia as it aims to ensure the sustainable development of regional tourism and raise the number of visitors to the protected territories,” Viktor Baramia, Economic Development Programme Manager told The Messenger.