UN tourism expert visits Georgia

Tusheti Protected Area in Georgia. Photo by apa.gov.ge
Agenda.ge, 07 Apr 2014 - 18:05, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United Nation’s World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Secretary-General has assured the Georgian Government it will support ways to develop a competitive tourism sector and help create sustainable tourism in Georgia.

To further strengthen cooperation between Georgia and UNWTO, and implement the joint regional projects, Taleb Rifai paid an official visit to Georgia on April 6 and -7.

UNWTO Secretary General Rifai came up with the initiative to focus on rural, ski, mountain and urban tourism development. 

"Tourism has become a very important component of economic development. And we feel the development of rural, ski, mountain and urban tourism will tremendously contribute to the creation of jobs, generate income and develop the infrastructure,” Rifai said after meeting Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

Rifai’s initiative was appreciated by the Georgian leader and Giorgi Kvirikashvili of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, who said tourism was the strategic sector for the country’s development.

"Sharing the experience of the World Tourism Organization is essential for us [and we] aim to developed intensive and international cooperation among tourism stakeholders,” Kvirikashvili said.

Rifai believed Georgia had been a "star in the performance of tourism in the last five years”.


 Mtirala National Park, Georgia; Photo by apa.gov.ge

This afternoon the Secretary-General attended a conference that discussed the development of Georgia’s protected areas.

The Agency of Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia presented results of the Strengthening the Protected Areas of Georgia project.

The project, supported by the German Government, outlined the development of nine eco-tourism products in five protected areas of Georgia. These products included developing eco-tourist trails, educational trails and themed trails, geological trials and canyoning at Mtirala National Park.

The Agency of Protected Areas’ reported these services would be available for tourists from the 2014 touristic season.

UNWTO’s membership includes 156 countries and six associate members. In addition, more than 400 affiliate members represent the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.