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How many tourists really entered Georgia?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 26
It seems there are different statistics concerning the number of foreign tourists entering Georgia. Officially we are informed that during the first seven months of 2010 more than one million tourists entered the country, which contradicts the perception of tour operators who are complaining that the number of foreign tourists is decreasing. Analysts say that the statistic is flawed, because not every person entering country is a tourist. There are relatives, businessmen, students and so on. The Ministry of Interior reports that in the first seven months of 2010 more than 1 million people entered Georgia, while 970 thousand left the country. Strangely enough, all these people are considered tourists. Is Turkish lorry driver who is entering Georgia to transit cargo through Georgia, a tourist? And what about those Armenian and Azeri businessmen involved in the export-import of goods from/to their countries? They enter Georgia several times over the course of a year. Are they tourists? The questions remain unanswered, but we can say of course these are not tourists. Analysts believe that perhaps only around 25 percent of those who enter Georgia do so to have a holiday at a Georgian resort. According to the legislation, a tourist is someone who is voluntarily traveling outside his/her permanent dwelling place for recreation, business or another reason and stays in the country more than 24 hours but less than 1 year and his traveling expenses are not reimbursed from financial sources in his temporary location. This explanation is confusing and does not give the real picture of tourists who come to Georgia only for a holiday or recreational activities.