Starring Georgia campaign to put Georgia on int’l map of entertainment events - National Tourism Administration

Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Maia Omiadze. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, Jun 15, 2023, Tbilisi, Georgia

Imagine Dragons, Bruno Mars and The Killers are among international stars included in the line-up for Georgia’s brand-new Starring Georgia campaign, a programme of performance events aiming to promote the country's potential in tourism, economy and culture and put Georgia on the map of international event calendars as a new destination. 

On the initiative of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Black Sea Arena - a 10,000 capacity venue in the western seaside town of Shekvetili - has launched the wide-scale campaign, which will see shows hosted at the venue and other locations. 

In addition to the three acts, the campaign will bring Nile Rodgers & Chic, FKJ, Damian Lazarus and All Day I Dream to the country with an idea to uniting people of different generations and music lovers in Georgia. 

Maia Omiadze, the Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, spoke to us about the programme in an interview, and highlighted the country’s potential to become a hub for various international events.

Photo: Nino Alavidze/

Q. What are the benefits that Starring Georgia would bring to Georgia?

A. Initiated by the Government of Georgia, the Staring Georgia campaign is an opportunity to put Georgia on the map of international event calendars as a new destination. 

For tourism, this is a new product that will help us attract the kind of tourists who might not be otherwise interested in our country. For example, I can tell you that tickets for the Imagine Dragons show sold out in seven hours on April 24, and 20 percent of the tickets have been purchased by foreign visitors. The United States of America has a certain share in this. This band is accompanied by listeners who, if not for this event, might not have planned a visit from America.

The domestic tourism sector will have the opportunity to integrate these concerts into their tourism offers and offer them to travellers as a single package. Therefore, it is very important for the state sector to organise and plan the concerts on time, so that the tourist agencies also have time to include these concerts in their offers on time.

Photo: Nino Alavidze/

Q. Most of the concerts are planned for summer. How long will the Starring Georgia campaign run for, and how will the programme be distributed throughout the year?

A. Summer is the longest time to travel because people take their biggest vacations in summer. So, people who come during these concerts are expected to spend their holidays here, to use hotel and catering services, which means more money spent in our country.

Starring Georgia is a calendar of events which, at this stage, has been planned to run for two years. If the campaign is successful, it will continue after [that]. Actually, this project is clearly successful already. Our job is to increase the share of foreign visitors to these concerts. Today, [the] 20 percent [named above] is not a small number.

Photo: GNTA

Q. What potential does Georgia have to be on the map of international events?

A. Georgia has the potential to host international concerts and festivals. Black Sea Arena is a very high-ranking concert venue with its technical characteristics that respond to modern challenges.

Georgia has the opportunity to increase the festival life and make it much bigger.

There are traditionally very successful festivals in our country, such as Open Air [summer festival of popular bands and artists], 4GB [series for electronic music], jazz festivals, film and theatre festivals, but bringing such stars is a new step. 

It should be noted that stars come to us all the time, but not so often when they are at the peak of their careers. These festivals have already created a reputation for Georgia - that there are technical possibilities here, that there is peace, stability, security, that the technical staff is ready and there is good service, and most importantly, there is a very good audience. Many stars - from James Brown to Joe Cocker - have given concerts in our country, which also has a positive effect on the country's image as a host of events.

Photo: Black Sea Arena

Q. Recently, Georgia has become the host country of many cultural, tourism events or gathering places for annual meetings of international financial institutions. Please talk about the importance of those events to our country.

A. In general, we try to make Georgia the host country of many international events, whether they take place in Georgia or outside the country [while granting “host” status to select countries in their editions]. 

In the first quarter [of the year], we hosted the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Bakuriani. For three weeks, Euronews commentators talked about how well-prepared Georgia was for the competition with its mountain, landscape, ropeway infrastructure, and how it was able to create the infrastructure needed to hold this type of event in a very short time. 

Photo: Nino Alavidze/

Let me say here that Bakuriani and Gudauri have been marked as permanent hosts in the competition calendar of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, enabling the destinations to host stages of World Cup events running under the body annually. It is very difficult to have these events run beyond [their established locations in] Europe, because traditionally there are four or five countries that host top skiing competitions.

Then we hosted the world’s major tourism exhibition ITB Berlin in the German capital, where we showed the whole world the famous Georgian hospitality. 

Georgian stand at ITB Berlin. Photo: Ministry of Economy

Our country claims to be a hub of events. 

World Tourism Day, which is the most important day of this industry, will be held in Georgia in September 2024. Many high-ranking guests will come to our country, including famous people who are United Nations Ambassadors for Peace. Especially since the theme of next year's event is “Peace and Tourism”. It will be a three-day event and will not be concentrated only in Tbilisi, because we have the opportunity to show our guests our gastronomy, culture and introduce different corners of Georgia. 

Also, we will be in the centre of international media attention, which is also important. I would like to tell you that we made savings of €37 million and received media coverage corresponding to this amount as a result of being [the] host [country] of ITB Berlin. The fact that the number of German tourists has already increased in the first quarter is a result of this kind of media coverage and our marketing campaigns. 

Our marketing campaigns are planned and ongoing until the end of the year to attract more tourists to our country from the target countries. Where the awareness of our country is already high and the number of tourists is already increasing, we do not have a similar type of marketing activity, of course.

This month the western Georgian city of Kutaisi will host this year’s Gemo Fest of food and drinks, which is my favourite festival.  Local hosts will transform their customary dishes into street food form for visitors. The organisers will select 20 local hosts and help them remake their traditional dishes in the [new shape]. 

Photo: GNTA

It should be noted that participants of the same event in Racha last year opened a café on Orbeliani Square in Tbilisi this year and continued the sustainability of their business. This festival uniquely helps to develop local businesses apart from promoting tourism.

And finally, I want to share with you another very important event that we will host in July. This is M&I, a large-scale forum that organises meetings between major buyers of business tourism and different countries. This event is held for the first time in Georgia. 50 largest buyers will arrive in Tbilisi on July 5-6. There will be meetings [and] visits to places where the buyers can bring international conferences. We took part in the bidding to get this event off the ground. If we do this event well, we will bring 500 buyers next year.

I hope that at the end of the year we will count the number of tourists [and] we [will] have something to celebrate.