The FINANCIAL — The Tbilisi Declaration of the UNWTO Executive Council, which was adopted within the framework of the 112th session stated that they support Georgia’s efforts and policy measures which are implemented to restart hospitality and to reopen borders. The Executive Council of the UNWTO is being held in Tbilisi, Georgia between September 15–17.
In addition to key policy issues in the tourism industry, the declaration also includes ways of overcoming existing challenges, as well as promotes future plans. The 112th session of the Executive Council of the UNWTO was opened by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. The event includes high-ranking delegates from Spain, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, agenda.ge reported.
“We support Georgia’s efforts and effective policy measures implemented to restart the hospitality and tourism sectors and to gradually reopen borders, which position Georgia as a resilient, sustainable, and highly valued tourism destination on the global tourism map,” – states the Tbilisi Declaration of the UNWTO Executive Council. “A new milestone for tourism. At the 112 Executive Council, we signed the ‘Tbilisi Declaration’, a comprehensive statement to keep making tourism a key pillar of the Agenda 2030. With sustainability, cooperation, and innovation we Restart Tourism!” – tweeted World Tourism Organization.
The document highlights the steps taken by Georgia in the fight against COVID-19. “We also express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Georgia for the gracious invitation to host a presential meeting of the Executive Council of the UNWTO in the aftermath of the pandemic, allowing us to experience its rich cultural heritage and unique hospitality.” – Tbilisi Declaration of the UNWTO Executive Council also stated.
It is noteworthy that Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia met with Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmad bin Aqil Al-Khatib. Issues pertaining to bilateral cooperation and future prospects for the relations between the two countries were discussed at the meeting. The importance of exchanging high-level visits between the countries was emphasized and it was noted that the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, which took place in 2019, was an additional step toward deepening the partnership and the relations between the two countries. Directions of investment were discussed at the meeting. As the Prime Minister noted, Georgia is ready to further expand the business and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and welcomes the entry of more investors from Saudi Arabia into Georgian markets.
It was stressed that Georgia is an attractive country for Saudi Arabia in terms of both state investment funds and private business. Attention was paid to the field of tourism and the potential between the countries in this regard was stressed. It was noted that Georgia hosted more than 75,000 visitors from Saudi Arabia in 2019, which is a 45 percent increase compared to the previous period. It was noted that Georgia has the resources to double this figure as Georgia is of great interest to the citizens of Saudi Arabia. It was also noted that the simplification of the visa regime for Georgian citizens will help deepen the relations between the two countries. The conversation also touched on the issue of free trade. It was noted that the establishment of a free trade regime between Georgia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will be mutually beneficial in the future.
It is also interesting that the government is about to make a decision on the resumption of Wizz Air regular flights in the coming days. “The decision on the very careful and gradual resumption of WIZZ AIR regular flights to certain safe directions will be made in the coming days,” said the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Natia Turnava. The negotiations are also underway with an Irish budget airline Ryanair, noted the Minister. She also added that Georgia has moved to the adaptation stage. “Instead of strict prohibitions, we are going to live with a pandemic. We now actively use the PCR method rather than quarantine. Foreign visitors entering Georgia from ‘green countries’ are required to obtain PRC test results. This, in turn, reduces the risk of imported infections. We are trying to resume flights step by step. For example, more than 90 flights are scheduled for September.” – She stated, according to Georgian Public Broadcasting.
International tourist arrivals plunged 93% in June when compared to 2019, with the latest data from the World Tourism Organization showing the severe impact COVID-19 has had on the sector. According to the new issue of the World Tourism Barometer from the United Nations specialized agency, international tourist arrivals dropped by 65% during the first half of the year. This represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries around the world closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic. Read more.