Quartzy: "What’s behind a stratospheric tourism boom in the tiny European nation of Georgia"

Georgia’s capital Tbilisi counts Lisi Lake among its tourist attractions. Photo: qz.com.

Agenda.ge, Sep 02, 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

The major rise of Georgia's tourism figures, infrastructure and resulting economic benefits is an outcome of political changes and a push for opening up the country to the world, a new feature on Quartzy, a publication for global economic review.

Published on Sunday, the article from Natasha Frost goes into the geopolitical basis for the dramatic increase in the country's focus on tourism - and relevant changes to its investment - as opposed to just cultural or geographic reasons for a visitor attraction it has gained.

[T]he real reason Georgian tourism is booming has a lot more to do with geopolitics than it does grapes [...]

[I]t’s the result of huge political change, coupled with a structured, sustained campaign by the country’s government to open Georgia to the world, and take it from a pretty, but mostly unknown, Eastern European backwater to a global tourist hotspot," the author argues.

Identified as a state sector of a major priority, tourism has seen attention from policymakers and resulting figures have been reflected in skyrocketing visitor numbers.

The government however is aiming even higher for the period through 2025, as outlined in its latest vision for the field. New affordable flights from western European destinations, starting later this year, are one component in this policy.

[Georgia] hopes to attract more tourists from the EU, North America, the Middle East, and Asia; triple tourism revenue to $6.6 billion; and increase the average tourist spend from $328 over five days to $600 over a week," it is explained in the feature.

Offering a retrospective of policy decisions over the last 15 years or so that have led to the opening up of the country, the article mentions the no-visa access for citizens of nearly 100 countries as an example of changes that have impacted the "tourism boom" in the South Caucasian destination.

The author also goes into a challenge of protecting cultural heritage in remote locations on the backdrop of the drastic increases in tourism numbers, indicating "growing pains" in the process.

Read the full story here.