The FINANCIAL — The number of passengers served by Georgian airports during the first nine months of 2015 has amounted to 1,769,485. The number was 1,578,616 (or 10.7% less) during the same period of the prior year. With 338,111 passengers Turkish Airlines remains the leader of the Georgian air market. High frequency of flights is the main contributor to the company’s leadership in Georgia.
There are 31 air companies providing regular flights into Georgian airspace. Only one of them is Georgian while the other 30 are foreign. Two more international companies, Mahan Air and Etihad Airways were planning to launch flights to Georgia. However, their scheduled flights were cancelled. The Georgian side explained their decision regarding Mahan Air as being due to security problems which Mahan was facing. As for Etihad Airways, the company declined to give an explanation to The FINANCIAL.
With 1,432,631 passengers Tbilisi International Airport remains the leader by number of passengers served during January-September 2015. The number of passengers was 1,216,139 during the first nine months of 2014. A passenger increase has been shown at Batumi International Airport as well. The airport served 186,865 customers during the current year, up from the 183,570 of 2014. Contrary to Tbilisi and Batumi airports, the number of passengers at Kutaisi International Airport has decreased this year. The number amounted to 146,162 in 2015, down from 178,688 from 2014. A significant increase was shown at Mestia airport. The airport served 3,827 passengers this year, while the number was just 219 during January-September 2014.
According to the Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia (GCAA), with 338,111 passengers Turkish Airlines remains the leader of the Georgian air market. It is followed by: Georgian Airways – 187,199; Ukraine International Airways – 165,700; Pegasus – 109,396; Wizz Air Hungary – 82,208; S7 – 73,351; Belavia – 65,717; FlyDubai – 65,995; Atlas Global – 55,413; and Aeroflot – 55,162.
“Turkish Airlines have frequent flight schedules to Georgia. Currently the company has 28 flights to Tbilisi per week. This is the main contributor to the company’s leadership on our market,” said Mindia Mindiashvili, Specialist of the Air Transportation Department of GCAA.
During January-August 2015 the number of passengers from Tbilisi to Russia, including Moscow, Samara, Saint-Petersburg and Rostov, increased by 92% compared with January-August 2014.
There are four air companies offering flights to Moscow from Tbilisi. The largest share of passengers – 52,436 – were served by Georgian Airways during January-August 2015. It was followed by S7 – 50,516; Aeroflot – 47,899; and Transaero – 28,751.
According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, the number of international travellers to Georgia during the first nine months of 2015 amounted to 4,491,418 up from 4,207,579 of January-September 2014. Annual comparative figures have shown an increase of international travellers by 6.7%.
The top 5 countries by number of arrivals in 2015 comprises: Armenia (1,069,567); Turkey (1,064,712); Azerbaijan (1,053,643); Russia (733,649); and Ukraine (110,381).
Out of the top five countries by number of arrivals, the number of travellers in 2015 has increased from Armenia by 13.45%, Azerbaijan by 8.07%, and Russia – 14.45%. However, the number has reduced from Turkey by 4.54% and Ukraine by 3.26% in comparison with January-September 2014.
In 2015 Georgia hosted several international events that contributed to the increase of foreign visitors. The EBRD annual meeting, European Youth Olympic Festival and UEFA Super Cup have all been held in Georgia this year.
Despite an increasing number of passengers served by Georgian airports, the country’s land borders still remain the dominant means of entering Georgia for visitors. They make up 85% of all border crossing types. Air makes up 14%, and the remaining part is shared between railway and sea.
According to the 2015 report of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to the Georgian GDP in 2014 was GEL 1,726.4mn (5.9% of the GDP). This is forecast to rise by 4.2% to GEL 1,798.7mn in 2015. According to the report, this primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). But it also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported.
The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to the GDP is expected to grow by 6.6% pa to GEL 3, 396.6mn (6.9% of the GDP) by 2025.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism. Rochelle Turner is the head of research at “WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2015 Georgia”.
“The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to the GDP (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts) was GEL 5,867.6mn in 2014 (20.0% of the GDP) and is expected to grow by 4.2% to GEL 6,114.2mn (19.8% of the GDP) in 2015,” said Rochelle Turner, Head of Research.
It is forecast to rise by 6.5% pa to GEL 11,508.4mn by 2025 (23.5% of the GDP).
As for investments, as we read in the WTTC report, Travel & Tourism’s share of total national investment will rise from 3.4% in 2015 to 4.0% in 2025.
“The sector faces challenges every year and this year is likely to be no different. The weakness and potential volatility of many currencies against the US dollar and a deep recession in Russia, a key outbound market, will slow outbound spending in line with slower world trade overall in 2015. However, falling oil prices will bring significant improvements for net oil importers in 2015, easing upward pressure on living costs, increasing disposable household incomes and domestic consumer spending, and lowering air fares. As a result, Travel & Tourism expansion is forecast to continue at a stronger rate than last year, with the total contribution to GDP expected to increase by 3.7%. New destinations and investment opportunities will also continue to emerge as tourism becomes increasingly affordable across the developing world. This growth will require countries to adopt a concerted and coordinated approach to talent planning and development between their industry, governments and educational institutions to ensure they fulfil their potential in the years ahead,” said David Scowsill, President & CEO at WTTC.