Georgia Bets on Ukraine; Country expects 100 percent growth in number of Ukrainian tourists

Georgia Bets on Ukraine; Country expects 100 percent growth in number of Ukrainian tourists

The FINANCIAL -- Despite the current disturbances in Ukraine, Georgia is expecting a great number of Ukrainian tourists to visit its winter resorts.

The number of Ukrainian tourists increased by 67 percent in the first 10 months of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, according to the National Tourism Administration. 10,359 tourists from Ukraine visited Georgia during the winter period in the beginning of 2013 and Georgia is expecting more Ukrainian visitors this year.

“There is a rally in one point of the city and it will come to an end one day,” Giorgi Sigua, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, told The FINANCIAL. “We expect 100 percent growth in the number of Ukrainian tourists coming to Georgia. We hosted 70,000 tourists from Ukraine in 2012 and the number will be over 120 to 130,000 in 2013, we believe. If we take into consideration the fact that Ukraine is not our contiguous country and there is a lack of variety of different transports to use, these numbers are really high. People travel by plane mostly. Though they can travel by ferryboat as well but only 1 percent of travellers use it. In general, the number of tourists out of international travellers from Ukraine is very high,” he added.

Sigua has just returned from Ukraine. He says that now is the time to move from the centre to the regions and make their residents more interested in travelling to Georgia.

“Because of the limited budget for marketing activities, the money should be spent in the most efficient way. We are going to advertise Georgia in Kharkov, Ukraine. The budget of this campaign will be USD 200,000. Under these terms we will have 66 billboards and LED screens. This is much cheaper than any TV advertisement. There are a few international flights from Kharkov airport including Kutaisi Airport, which on average costs USD 60 which is much cheaper than a flight from Kharkov to Kiev,” Sigua said.

The Agency plans to ask airlines to add Kharkov flights to Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi international airports.  “Beside Kharkov, I also had presentations in three cities: Lvov, Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk. Internal flights are scheduled normally there,” he added.

Ukraine is one of the most important partners of Georgia in terms of tourism development, according to the Georgian Tourism Association.

“Usually, the number of tourists decreases in those countries where there is political instability,” Nata Kvachantiradze, Chairwoman of the Georgian Tourism Association, told The FINANCIAL. “Georgia is a stable country in this case so there is no reason for Ukrainian or any other tourists to change their minds when it comes to visiting Georgia. As for the instability in Ukraine, it is temporary and will be over soon, I believe. Georgia is attractive for Ukrainian tourists not only in summer but in the winter period as well. Gudauri and Bakuriani are the favourite destinations for Ukrainians in Georgia during winter. Different press and informational tours were held for attracting Ukrainians. Georgia took part in many exhibitions in Ukraine. Ukraine holds one of the leading positions in terms of number of foreign tourists coming to Georgia. Despite the friendly relationship between Georgia and Ukraine, tourism development between these two countries is contributed to by cheap direct flights as well and the environment which they have here. Also, they see cheaper prices for winter resorts in Georgia,” Kvachantiradze added.

Marina Metreveli, an expert in tourism, says that Ukrainian people are used to planning their journeys several months in advance. “One of the favourite destinations of Ukrainian tourists is the winter resorts in Georgia and I am sure that they have already planned to visit these places. Ukrainian people have such a character that if they plan something then they will fulfil it for sure. No matter what kind of situation there is in the country, they still go travelling,” she said.

In total, 4,556,110 people visited Georgia in the first 10 months of 2013, while their number was 3,684,154 in the same period of 2012, according to the Georgian National Tourism Administration. The statistics show that there was 24 percent growth in number of tourists visiting Georgia between 2012 and 2013. The majority of tourists, 1,046,606, were from Armenia, which sees 41 percent growth compared to 2012. And a lower number of tourists came to Georgia from the Netherlands, Saint Luca, Belize, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Bhutan, Cambodia, Mozambique, Mauritania and Switzerland from which only one tourist came.

As Marina Metreveli says, the first two countries from which tourists’ numbers increased in Georgia significantly in 2013 are Ukraine and Russia. 106,802 Ukrainian tourists visited Georgia in the first 10 months of 2013, while their number was 64,101 in 2012, according to the GNTA.

Here are the statistics of Ukrainian visitors visiting Georgia by month:
January - 4,676; February - 5,683; March - 7,127; April - 9,130; May - 11,433; June - 11,838; July - 14,113; August - 15,542. The statistics show that the most popular period of time for visiting Georgia for Ukrainian tourists is August.