The FINANCIAL -- Nine new tourism products, which the Georgian Tourism Association (GTA) is bringing to Georgia, will be available from May 2014. The installation of special equipment for using these products has already been completed. Out of the 9 products one is totally novel in Georgia - the zip-line, which has been installed on the Mtirala Mountain in the Adjara region, near Batumi.
A zip-line consists of a pulley suspended on a cable, usually made of stainless steel, mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable by holding on to, or attaching to, the freely moving pulley.
“Bringing the zip-line tourism product to Georgia is very innovative and useful for developing domestic tourism and making tourism products more diverse,” Nata Kvachantiradze, Chairwoman of the Georgian Tourism Association, told The FINANCIAL. “While implementing this project in Georgia we also thought about developing 4 season tourism in the country. Georgia will become a 4 season tourism country, which means that interest from tourists should be equal throughout spring, summer, autumn and winter. This is a challenge for the country. Currently, during the peak season demand is high, hotels are full. But when the season is over, the resorts are lacking the visitors. We should do our best to attract tourists after the season ends. The hotels are overloaded during summer while they are empty in winter. In such a way business cannot develop properly in Georgia. Time is required to adequately plan out activities for the off-peak period, which is the responsibility of both the state as well as us. It could involve cultural or MICE tourism for example,” she added.
“Imagine that it is rainy weather in Batumi... people can still visit the Mtirala Mountain and enjoy the zip-line there,” Kvachantiradze said.
5 protected areas have been selected for developing 9 new tourism products - Mtirala Mountain, Tbilisi National Park, Lagodekhi Protected Area, Vashlovani National Park and Kolkheti National Park.
The project has been getting implemented for 10 months already. “Diversification of tourism products was very important for us. We brought different attractions to the protected areas to make these places more interesting for people of all ages, including children,” said Kvachantiradze.
Geo tours will be offered in Vashlovani. These are scientific tours which are designed for professionals. In Tbilisi National Park, which covers the territory from Gldani to Saguramo, Cycling Tours will be offered. In Kokhelti a Kayak Tour for adventure tourism is planned.
The methodology of creating these products and installing them in different areas remains in Georgia. So other organizations are able to use it and spread them throughout Georgia.
GTA is implementing this project in cooperation with the Agency of Protected Area (APA), Georgian National Tourism Agency and the World Tourism Organization and is financed by the German Fund.
Two years since the cancellation of the Vardzia Adventure Tour, it is now re-launching in May 2014 and will again offer rafting, cycling competitions and running, according to GTA.
GTA has increased the number of its member companies and now comprises 53 tourism organizations.
Q. While talking about incoming tourism development could you please tell us how Georgia is presenting itself to the world?
A. There are several ways to raise awareness of Georgia abroad which are currently being used by the state - participating in international exhibitions and making presentations about Georgia. Also press-tours for international journalists and information tours for international travel agencies are handled to make Georgia better known abroad. Then the international travel agencies will carry out the promotion of Georgia to better sell the country as a product.
Georgia is still focusing on European and Eastern European countries and is oriented on attracting tourists from those countries mainly. Georgia is being promoted intensively in these countries. The country’s aim is to make progress in delivering tourism products in those countries which are already our target. But attracting new markets is of course very important for Georgia and is currently one of the challenges.
Q. You mentioned what Georgia is doing to attract international markets. What about the development of domestic tourism in the country?
A. Domestic tourism has been becoming more and more active since 2012. Newly-rehabilitated cities have become very popular and in demand with Georgian residents. Infrastructure, which is a constant problem in Georgia, has been improved in many places as well. The level of service, which is another important component of tourism development, has seen significant progress due to the number of trainings being held in this sphere.
Georgia should be introduced properly to Georgians first of all. Many festivals have been held, like wine and cheese festivals. Such kinds of cultural events are being held to promote the country further. Khevsureti, Shatili, Tusheti, Kakheti and Svaneti are all destinations which Georgian tourists should see so that they can enjoy the opportunities that these regions present. Many Georgians do not know Georgia properly, especially the mountains. Several marathons, festivals and sports events were planned this year and will be continued in 2014 as well just for attracting Georgians and bringing them to different regions of the country.