The FINANCIAL -- The majority of Georgian young people interviewed by The FINANCIAL via
Facebook and email say that they are dissatisfied with the lack of
entertainment venues in Tbilisi and that there are too few places to
enjoy the summer in the capital.
Meanwhile leisure and entertainment business owners say that there is a lack of culture of entertainment in the form of outdoor activities among locals, and that the majority of Georgians prefer to spend their downtime in restaurants instead. Others say that demand for such entertainment is too high for the supply which is very low.
“The problem is that the majority of our citizens consider entertainment to be time spent in a café or restaurant,” David Katsarava, President of the Rafting Federation in Georgia, told The FINANCIAL.
“Healthy lifestyle as a concept does not have a big following in Georgia. Lack of promotion is the main reason for it. The majority of Georgians prefer to go to a restaurant to eat as a way to relax. Accordingly the restaurant business is more developed here,” said Mako Jaoshvili, Vice President of the Bowling Federation of Georgia and Founder of the event organizing company Sevent LTD.
Over 80% of respondents questioned by The FINANCIAL said that they visit water parks and bowling centres during the summer season at least once a month.
Katsarava said that for those people who want to spend their free time on an outdoor activity, they should consider going in for ‘Extreme Tours’.
“The lack of such entertainment venues is due to low demand and high cost of equipment which requires solid investments. As the Georgian banking sector offers loans with high interest rates, attracting investments for starting such a business is nigh on impossible,” said Katsarava of the Rafting Federation.
“Establishing an entertainment centre could be very profitable in the current situation. At present customers visit different places to dine, enjoy karaoke and dancing. There is no one, major place or centre where all types of entertainment services can be found under one roof,” said Elene Jgarkava, Head of the Marketing Department at Caucasus University (CU).
“However, recently more citizens have started changing their habits and establishing a healthy lifestyle. Morning exercise and swimming have become essential parts of daily life for many people. That is why so many new sport complexes have been appearing in recent times,” Jaoshvili added.
Jaoshvili also sees prospects in the niche of multi-profile sport and entertainment complexes for a diversified age segment. “Such complexes can be opened in different districts of Tbilisi . It is important to balance prices in accordance with different areas’ customer profiles. Prices should be diversified not only depending on the district but on infrastructure,” she said.
“During the hot summer people who have not left the city to holiday elsewhere tend to choose cool and comfortable places to relax in their free time. Accordingly such entertainment centres are profitable,” said Jaoshvili.
Bowling Center located at Tbilisi -Central works 24 hours a day. Besides bowling and billiards the centre frequently arranges sports competitions, corporate and festive events. It serves 150-200 customers daily. The centre can cater for 250 guests.
“The variety of service at our centre determines the average fee of a customer. With a minimum GEL 20-30 a visitor can relax, have fun and enjoy a snack,” Jaoshvili said.
The popular water park Europark boasts five pools, jacuzzi, attractions, artificial rivers, animation programmes, fitness centre and cafés. The company has branches in Tbilisi , Batumi, Kutaisi and Telavi.
An entrance ticket for adults at the Tbilisi branch, Monday - Friday, costs GEL 30. On Saturday - Sunday the fee for adults is GEL 40.
In 2006 one of the leading oil importer companies, LUKOIL Unigroup, initiated the most popular sports competition for oil companies. It was later expanded for the media, where up to 100 journalists took part in ‘Media Rafting’. During 2007-2009 the tournament resulted in a huge surge in the popularity of rafting, but the project was later stopped suddenly.
“Arranging transportation for more than 50 individuals, their entertainment and hosting, was quite expensive,” said Levan Gogichadze, Head of the Marketing and PR Department at LUKOIL Unigroup.
“Popularization of healthy living and of rafting as a sport was our main goal, which we achieved. We are going to re-start this project in the future,” he said.
Adventure club Jomardi serves around 100-150 people weekly from May till the end of July. In August this figure slumps a little but in September it starts increasing again.
“During the past five years the number of visitors has been increasing. This year we saw 30-40% enlargement in comparison with the past five years,” Katsarava said.
The approximate fee for rafting is GEL 30-40.
According to Katsarava, sports and entertainment clubs are a profitable business. “It is a service sector with a higher margin than in trade or other business sectors. The management of such clubs is difficult though, and associated with several problems. The restaurant business is more assimilated; despite the high competition, it is easier to run.”
On 1 May, 2012, Georgian Extreme Ways was founded in Tbilisi . The company is offering exciting, ‘extreme’ outdoor tours in different regions of Georgia. The most popular type of tour is bike tours.
“We serve approximately 25 customers per week,” said Beka Iremashvili, Founder and Director of Georgian Extreme Ways.