Levan Davitashvili, the Georgian Economy Minister, on Monday said the Chinese citizens would be able to stay in the country for 30 days without a visa requirement, following Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s announcement earlier during the day about the Government’s intention to introduce visa-free travel with the country.
In his press comments following the weekly Government meeting, the Minister said the PM would sign the decree later on Monday, and added the step would “greatly benefit” domestic tourism, before describing China as the “most desirable” country for the sector.
Davitashvili noted the Government was communicating with Chinese airline carriers, including Southern Airlines, to increase flights to Georgia.
There will be at least one flight from China per day. However, this is not enough - our ambition is up to 10 flights per day, which will have a corresponding result on the domestic economy”, he said, and added “China is the largest tourist market in the world, probably the most desirable market for everyone”.
He said more than 150 million tourists from China were visiting countries across the world annually, with their spending in the countries reaching about $300 billion.
The official also rejected claims by a part of the domestic opposition that intensifying ties with Beijing could worsen Georgia’s relations with strategic partners, including the United States.
He stressed “direct contacts and talks” with strategic partners had revealed “no such threats”, and pointed to China’s “intensive economic cooperation” with the US and the European Union.
US’ trade turnover with China is colossal - over half a trillion - while the figure reaches almost a trillion with the EU. Thus, talks about China being an unwanted, unacceptable and risky partner are exaggerated”, Davitashvili said.
The Minister also accused the previous United National Movement Government of having implemented “wrong economic policies” over the years, which he said had “affected a number of sectors”.
He claimed “reasonable policies” by the current Government had, in contrast, served the country’s national interests “in all directions”.