11 Mar 2016
Travelling to Georgia is getting easier and cheaper thanks to a surge in low-cost airlines entering the Georgian market.
International visitors are being given an opportunity to fly to Georgia while locals can venture abroad without having to pay sky-high fees that are usually associated with air travel.
As of today seven budget airlines fly in and out of Georgia, making air travel more affordable for Georgians travelling abroad and for foreigners willing to discover Georgia.
The budget airlines that now fly in and out of Georgia are:
To find great travel deals for our international readers, Agenda.ge researched to find the cheapest flights to Georgia from all parts of the world. We searched for the cheapest flights in September 2016, as several new low-cost airlines will begin flying into and out of Georgia at that time.
Last year 5,897,685 international visitors came to Georgia – 382,126 more than in 2014. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
Tourists from 11 cities from nine countries - Berlin, Munich and Dortmund in Germany, Milan in Italy, Thessaloniki in Greece, Larnaca in Cyprus, Kotowice in Poland, Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, Poland’s capital Warsaw, Hungary’s capital Budapest and Bulgaria’s capital Sofia – are now able to fly to Kutaisi International Airport in central Georgia by Hungarian airline Wizz Air cheaper than ever before.
One-way travel from Europe to Georgia by Wizz Air cost about €57-70 for the most basic flight deal – a ticket, online check-in and one small cabin bag. This deal and others are already available for tourists wanting to come to Georgia. Tickets first went on sale in February 2016 for the September flights.
Meanwhile Pegasus Airlines currently brings visitors from more than 60 countries to Georgia. Passengers can pay just €59 to land in Kutaisi from Amsterdam, from Barcelona - €81, from Brussels - €67, from Paris - €82, from Prague - €65, from Vienna - €70 and from Tel Aviv - €70.
Flights from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi begin from €190 via Air Arabia and €197 from Abu Dhabi.
One-way travel from Europe to Georgia by Wizz Air cost about €57-70 for the most basic flight deal. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
From Yerevan in Armenia to Tbilisi, flights for September begin at €125 via AtlasGlobal. Also in September Azerbaijan Airlines will carry passengers from Baku to Tbilisi for €64.
Russian carrier Aeroflot is offering the cheapest flight from New York, United States to Tbilisi. From September passengers can use this route for €354.
Meanwhile flights between Georgia and the Iranian capital Tehran resumed at the end of last year. From August 7, 2015 Iranian airline ATA Airlines performed Tbilisi-Tehran flight twice per week.
China has also established closer transport links with Georgia and from November 2015 China Southern offered passengers Tbilisi - Urumqi-Tbilisi.
Growing tourism, growing economy
Hundreds of millions of dollars was injected into the Georgian economy through international tourism in 2015. As the number of tourists to Georgia increased, the country experienced more benefits, said the National Tourism Administration.
In the first three quarters of 2015 Georgia earned $1.5 million USD directly from international tourism. This was almost three percent more year-on-year (y/y).
One international visitor spends about 600 GEL (about $247/€222*) which goes into the Georgian economy. We are working hard to attract more tourists to Georgia. As a result of successful cooperation we added 33 new flights last year. More tourists to Georgia is not just a slogan any more, this is a reality,” said Georgia’s Economy Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili.
More than five million international visitors came to Georgia last year, which was seven percent more than in 2014.
Last year the largest number of international travellers came from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
More specifically, statistics provided by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, Geostat, said last year 5,897,685 international visitors came to Georgia – 382,126 more than in 2014.
Last year the largest number of international travellers came from these 10 countries:
Significant growth in visitor numbers came from the following countries:
Which airlines service the Georgian market?
As of today 25 airline companies fly in and out of Tbilisi Shota Rustaveli International Airport, located in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, said United Airports of Georgia.
These are Aegean Airlines, Air Astana, Airzena, SCAT Airlines, Fly Baghdad, Azerbaijan Airlines, Qatar Airways, flydubai, Ural Airlines, Polish Airlines, ATA Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Yanair, Belavia, Lufthansa, Aeroflot, Siberia Airlines, Air Baltic, Alin Air, Turkish Airlines, AtlasJet, Pegasus, China Southern Airlines, Air Cairo and Air Arabia.
Five airlines fly to Batumi International Airport and these are Airzena, Arkia, Yanair, Belavia and Turkish Airlines.
Kutaisi International Airport is serviced by seven airlines, the majority of which are low-cost airlines: Wizz Air, Ukraine International Airlines, Pegasus, Urali Airlines, Belavia, Siberia Airlines and Airzena.
Tourists can travel from Kutaisi International Airport to Tbilisi, to Batumi on the Black Sea coast, to high-mountain resorts Mestia and Kazbegi or the historical province of Zugdidi by bus for 20 GEL (about $8.25/€7.42*).
When is the best time to fly to Georgia?
July and August are the warmest months in Tbilisi and this is when the city enjoys its largest influx of tourists. However flights to Tbilisi can be at their most expensive during these summer months. Cheaper flights to Tbilisi are more likely to be found during the cooler winter months of December, January and February.
In the last couple of years Gudauri became one of the premier resorts in the entire Caucasus region, touting a range of modern Doppelmayr lifts, 22 separate runs and an attractive base level of 1,900 metres. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
Bakuriani is a skiing resort near Borjomi, a town famous for the eponymous mineral water known in Soviet times as a hangover cure. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
Mestia is an ancient highland small town in northwest Georgia that sits at an elevation of 1,500m high in the Caucasus Mountains. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
Goderdzi is the newest of Georgia’s four winter resorts on the slopes of the mountainous Adjara region. Photo by the Mountain Resorts Development Company of Georgia.
The golden months – September and October – are attractive for travellers who love hiking in the mountains, want to taste Georgian wine and attend the jovial Tbilisoba festival, which brings plenty of wine and music to the capital city’s streets. The festival is a celebration of the diversity and history of Tbilisi and is a great time to be in the city and soak up the culture.
Tbilisoba festival is not only enjoyed by citizens of Tbilisi and Georgia, but also by international guests and tourists, some of whom have specifically planned their trip to coincide with the nationwide celebration. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
During this period Georgia offers wine tours in its wine-making region Kakheti, where grape picking takes place, which tourists are encouraged to get involved in.
International media promote Georgia
Georgia has been selected among the top international holiday destinations for 2016 by several international media.
Travel experts from The Guardian newspaper's travel section picked Georgia as a place that was "less crowded than much of Europe but offers much more bang for your buck." The pick highlighted cheap flights, Caucasian mountains, sights and venues in capital Tbilisi and the local wine culture as some of the reasons to visit the country this year.
Meanwhile English-language travel and entertainment website Brightside.ge described Georgia as a "small and wonderful country [where] you can find happiness at any time of the year”.
Popular global television travel shows, Travel Channel, named Georgia as one of the great destinations to visit in 2016. The piece said Georgia as a Eurasian destination was top of the must-see countries for history buffs and architecture fans.
American television station CNN named Georgia as a top travel destination for 2016.
Georgia was also named among the top 50 travel spots for this year by New York-based Travel + Leisure magazine.
* Currencies are in accordance with today's National Bank of Georgia exchange rate.