“Georgia could soon be ready for regulations”
12 September, 2019
“Georgia could soon be ready for regulations”
“With big money you can either build or destroy something”, says Vano Vashakmadze. The consultant for development in tourism helped to work out the new zone planning implemented by the government.

Vano Vashakmadze, tourism is thriving in Georgia. But critics say that the government is aiming for the masses instead of concentrating on quality. Do you agree?

In the tourism strategy from 2015 to 2025 the government has clearly focused on becoming a high-quality destination that is genuine and offers a top-class
experience. But it is one thing to declare something and another to put it into practice. Tourism is a highly competitive field and one of the leading industries in Georgia. The country spends 10 million US dollars a year on promoting itself as a destination.

Where does the money get spent?

A lot of it goes into international events and expos. But the reality is that 88% of the tourists Georgia attracts come from our neighbouring countries. To change that I would advise going more for the “niches” – focusing on specific interests and activities visitors are looking for.

What niches could Georgia fit into?

Now that Syria, Iran and Iraq are not easily accessible Georgia could for example promote archaeological tourism by presenting the antique heritage of the country. Or the country could explicitly target Swiss, German, Austrian or Italian mountaineers and skiers by promoting the Caucasus Mountain extreme sports on Events in the Alps. I would say the strategy has been declared, now tactics should be drafted. We know from statistics that Europeans, Americans and certain Asians are spending more time in our country. This means more money being spent here. And that is what Georgia should aim for in tourism – value, not numbers.

As a visitor to this country I have already realised that it is not so easy to travel to remote regions …

That is exactly the case. This country is very well connected from north to south and from east to west. But if you already have a million visitors in Batumi every year, you can’t attract another million there. So you need to develop new destinations. The attractions are there, but you need to develop the services: roads, places to stay, people who work there.

geotv.ge

Vano Vashakmadze studied physics and – in the 90s – made his hobby his profession and became a guide in the first ski resort in the country. In 2005 he moved on to consulting as a freelance tourism expert and worked with different international organisations and countries. Right now, he works with the project “Economic Security Program” financed by the USAID.

You are talking about developing and accessing remote regions. In this context sustainability is a huge topic in Europe. How is Georgia making sure that the development is sustainable?

Well sustainability and development are contradictory in a way. For many years there was no money in Georgia and after the Soviet Union our government was corrupt, the regulatory framework was very tight. So 20 years ago, under the leadership of President Micheil Saakashvili, Georgia had only one choice: we became a deregulated and liberalized economy. As a result, in 10 years, the state’s budget increased tenfold. That’s a fact.

But just because it is good for the economy doesn’t mean it is good for nature as well …

Yes, but with no money you don’t get to develop anything at all. And some action has been taken already. 10 percent of Georgia’s area is protected state land.

But there are negative examples as well, aren’t there?

Of course. For example, we see problems in Ushguli. The mountain village – very remote – is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Georgia. The demand is simply too high for such a small village. People have started to build houses or convert existing houses into accommodation. The way they are doing it is endangering the beauty of the site. I think the Government has understood that. But to simply enact a ban on construction is not the solution. You need to provide locals with access to finance and to knowledge – this is lacking.

But if we switch the focus to Batumi neither know-how nor money seem to be lacking.

Batumi is growing very fast. Meanwhile the coastal city has more hotels of known brands than Tbilisi. Batumi has its own problems: limited space for economic growth, booming of the seaside, increasing tourist numbers, the harbour, the oil terminal, the border. And all this must be handled by the government of the autonomous republic with the support of the central government. This is where the know-how is lacking. The city recently approved a masterplan for zone planning, regulating in which areas what kind of new constructions are allowed – on the day it was approved, they infringed it for the first time.

Are you telling me they were bribed?

Of course not, but I’m telling you that there are business immediate incentives. The government has to satisfy a lot of different needs and expectations. But the fact that they are moving in the direction of a zone-plan tells me that the government has understood that regulation in that sector is needed. Up to 10 years ago such an implementation would have been just a lesson learned from somebody. Now it’s time to really implement such regulations and put the zone plan into daily practice.

By Valerie Wacker

Related Articles:


"Georgia has a long way to go in Tourism"

Mountaineer and pioneer: Nick Erkomaishvili

Batumi awarded Europe's Leading Emerging Tourism Destination 2019

How "Spend Your Summer in Georgia" campaign started?
Print
Other Stories
Georgia marks two years since the tragic death of Archil Tatunashvili
Today Georgia marks two years since the tragic death of Archil Tatunashvili.
Russia Denies Cyber-Attack Against Georgia
Russian Foreign Ministry has denied the allegations that it carried out a cyber-attack against Georgi
Lasha Talakhadze Wins the Best Male Lifter Title
Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze has earned his third straight title of the Best Male Lifter in an International Weightlifting Federation poll
European Countries, US and UK Condemn Russian Cyber-Attack Against Georgia
The UK, Georgia and international partners have exposed the GRU’s – Russia’s military intelligence service – responsibility for a number of significant cyber-attacks against Georgia
Georgia puts blame on Russia over last October's cyberattack
On 28 October, a large scale cyber-attack was carried out by Main Division of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia.
SFRC Staff Director Meets With Georgian Officials
The United States Embassy twitted on its official page that the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff Director Chris Socha visited Georgia
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili Left the Prison Today
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili left so-called “Matrosov Prison” today
Georgia's former Interior and Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili to leave prison today
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili will leave so-called “Matrosov Prison” after 7 years of imprisonment. His jail term expires on February 20.
President Zourabichvili Calling on the International Community to React to Tskhinvali Situation
The President has called on the international community to react to the dire human rights situation in the Tskhinvali region
Georgian Leaders Express Concern Over Russia-backed attack in Eastern Ukraine
On February 18, Ukrainian Ambassador to the European Union Mykola Tochytskyi has informed the EU about the new Russian attack in Donbas
Former President Margvelashvili Returning to Politics
Former President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili says he is returning to active politics
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper thanks Georgia for many contributions to global security
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has responded to the meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia at the 56th Munich Security Conference on Twitter.
Shadow Boss- Bloomberg about Ivanishvili
Earlier this month the law firm of Hogan Lovells signed a $ 75, 000 a month contract to represent the Georgian Dream party which Ivanishvili founded in 2012 and runs to this day.
Putin attempts to restore Moscow's power over the former Soviet republics - The Washington Post
VLADIMIR PUTIN has spent much of his two decades in power attempting to restore Moscow’s rule over former republics of the Soviet Union.
Statement by Leading MEPs on Gigi Ugulava's Case
The ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Mr. Ugulava raises questions regarding the procedure, timing and motivation of the decision, MEPs said in a joint statement.
President Meets Ambassadors
The President reiterates her full readiness to get engaged in political dialogue and reconciliation processes
Embassies and Politicians commenting on Gigi Ugulava's Arrest
Several foreign politicians have expressed their concern about the arrest of the Leader of European Georgia opposition and ex-Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava
The U.S providing $170 million for military aid to Europe and Eurasia
The US budget for 2021 provides $ 170 million for military aid to Europe and Eurasia, including Georgia.
Middle East Institute about Black Sea Region Importance
Middle East Institute- the oldest Washington based institution dedicated solely to the study of the Middle East publishes an article, writing that the Black Sea should be a US and NATO priority.
Georgian Opposition Leader Gigi Ugulava Sentenced for 3 years
Georgian Supreme Court sentenced the Leader of European Georgia opposition party and ex-Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava for three years and two months in prison
Exclusive interview with Markéta Gregorová
The Minister of Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili and the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Kakhaber Kuchava presented reports in the European Parliament,
Congressmen's comments after meeting with Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze
Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, who is visiting the United States, holds meetings with Congressmen.
Svante Cornell compares Russia-Georgia relations to divorce
Russia's relationship with Georgia reminds me of a man who starts beating his lover after the latter abandons him, - said Svante Cornell, Director of the Institute for Central Asia-Caucasus, in an interview with the Georgian service of Voice of America.
David Zalkaniani about severe conditions in occupied regions at the meeting in Washington
The minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani, talked about the severe conditions in the occupied regions at the meeting in Washington.
"The primary appeal of Khazaradze is not the man himself, but what he represents."- FP
The global magazine for news and ideas FP publishes an article talking about Georgia's upcoming parliamentary elections, which have to be held by October.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
21.02.2020
22.02.2020
USD
1
USD
2.8265
2.8299
EUR
1
EUR
3.0515
3.0571
GBP
1
GBP
3.6405
3.6537
RUB
100
RUB
4.4316
4.3980
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.8265
EUR
1
EUR
3.0515
GBP
1
GBP
3.6405
RUB
100
RUB
4.4316