Crimea crisis may divert tourists to Georgia
17 April, 2014
Crimea crisis may divert tourists to Georgia
The Crimea crisis is expected to divert the tourist inflow from Ukraine to Georgia this summer. Ukrainian media has already reported that the cruise season will fail in Crimea this year since a large number of cruise ships and lines have canceled their routes to the ports of Yalta and Sevastopol. These ports will very likely be shifted to ports in Georgia, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria.
A global leader in cruise transportation, Costa Cruises, was the first who announced their
canceled stay in Yalta and its prolonged stays in Istanbul, Turkey and Burgas, Bulgaria. Popular Cruise liners Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Windstar Cruise, and MSC Cruises also shifted their routes from Yalta and Sevastopol to Turkey, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria. Some have enhanced their programs in Greece.
Some Ukrainian tourists, who used to go to Crimea in summer, will very likely visit Georgia, Turkey and Bulgaria. Because Georgia and Ukraine enjoy a visa-free regime, a significant part of them is expected to come to Georgia. According to Vladimer Tsariyk, Head of the Tourism Information Center in Ukraine, people are not aware of what exactly is going on in Crimea. Some think the tanks are stationed there and it is dangerous to go there. “Therefore, Ukrainians who used to go to Crimea [and the number of them reaches around 3 million] will not do it this year. They will prefer to have a rest abroad in Turkey, Georgia and Bulgaria,” he said.
According to Giorgi Sigua, Head of the National Tourism Agency of Georgia, 6 million tourists visit Crimea every year and 4.5 million out of this figure are national tourists or Ukrainians. Therefore he sees a large possibility that these people, especially those who like the Black Sea, will come to Georgia.
“I can say without hesitation that the Black Sea coast of Georgia offers no much better tourism infrastructure than Crimea does,” Sigua reported on BPN on 11 April. Georgian tourism companies share his opinion and are preparing for the season. They name the lack of hotel infrastructure as a key problem, but hope that this season will be much better that the preceding one. Sigua promises that the number of new international branded hotels such as Intercontinental, Rixos, Hilton, Kempinski and Radisson will be opened this year and next year.
When Egypt as a destination shut down last year, the tourist inflow increased significantly in Turkey and Dubai. So once Crimea is closed this year, Georgia is expected to substitute it for Ukrainian holiday-makers. Some sector players believe up to 30% of those Ukrainians who went to Crimea will shift their focus to Georgia. As Davit Gachechiladze, spokesperson of the Tour.ge agency, said to BPN, the interest has already increased from Ukraine and potential tourists have already contacted the agency. According to him, one of the most popular directions in Georgian tourism is wine and then the highland regions, as well as cultural tourism. However, extreme tourism has also been stepping up at high pace recently.
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