The FINANCIAL — According to the Georgian Tourism Department as well as Svaneti Tourism Centre, the number of tourists has already reached 3,000 and far more are expected for the forthcoming season.
Most of the tourists come from Israel, then Germany, Poland, Romania, etc. And the majority of them spend 2-7 days in Svaneti.
Currently the hotels which actively operate in Svaneti include Mestia, Ushba, Tetnuldi, and Svaneti which can hold 400-450 people, except for the 50 family hotels in Mestia which can hold 250-300 tourists.
Host families charge 40-70 GEL per day, a translator if needed costs 50 GEL, and renting a horse costs 30 GEL. The number of rooms also differs at family-run guest houses, price can also vary. Without food, it amounts to 10-15 GEL, with food – 45-50 GEL. We also have hotels charging 60-70 GEL.
The Svaneti Tourism Centre was established in 2006 with the great support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) which supported it with a donation of 13,365 GEL in 2007, the support continued in the following years – 27,180 in 2008, 13,438 in 2009, and 9,635 GEL in 2010.
Other organizations include EPFound, SME, The Swiss Development and Cooperation Office in the South Caucasus (SDC), and the Georgian Union of Mountain Activists (GUMA) which provided in total 74,358 USD.
“With the finances from our partner organizations Svaneti Tourism Centre has implemented a lot of projects. In the Mestia, Lentekhi, Oni districts we delivered trainings to more than 200 family hotels, 30 mountain guides and 7 rescuers. Together with SMTC 16 tourist and horseback routes were demarcated,” said Zaur Chartolani, Head of the Svaneti Tourism Centre.
“For the majority f tourists who rule out coming to Svaneti, their main concern is the time it takes to get there, the infrastructure as well as lack of publicity. However after the road’s resurfacing is over, time spent on route will drastically decrease,” said Chartolani.
“Currently we are having reconstruction works all across Svaneti including the Khaishi-Mestia road infrastructure, also the Mestia Atsvali ropeways which should lead to ski routes, and the reconstruction of Mestia’s centre. Another hotel was opened recently – Tetnuldi, this is the first hotel equipped with central heating, and is aimed at winter tourism,” said Chartolani.
“The services and entertainment we offer for tourists include the following: Trekking routes, guides providing motor-transport services, or a guide for horseback or on-foot tours; and if necessary – first aid,” said Chartolani.
“The prices are the same for Georgian and foreign travellers but if Georgians stay a relatively longer period of time then the families do offer lower prices,” said Chartolani.
Nana Kartvelishvili, an Executive for Statistics & Market Survey at the Tourism Department of Georgia says that out of the 1,000 foreign tourists interviewed (86.7 male, 18.4 female) the majority spent 12 days in Georgia. 46% stayed in hotels and sanatoriums, the other 30% in family hotels and the rest with friends, etc.
“Out of those 1,000 tourists, 300 come because of their professional and business activities while 24% come for entertainment and others for different purposes,” said Kartvelishvili.
On average those tourists who visited Georgia spent 1,785 USD, 439 USD on a daily basis.
Sarah and Noam visited Svaneti for one week.
“We really enjoy the atmosphere here, Ushguli was our favourite place. We’ve never seen anywhere like this. The host family provided us with everything necessary, including food and other things. Our main means of transport was on foot and we bought some Svan souvenirs, the Svan hat was the most exciting one,” said Sarah.
“It was the first visit of ours to Georgia and we are going to come back next year with our friends, we also visited Batumi but we preferred the mountain regions we visited – Khevsureti and Svaneti.”