“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.


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?
Other Stories
NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs agree on new measures to support Georgia and Ukraine in the context of Black Sea security
NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs have made a decision on new measures to support Georgia and Ukraine in the context of Black Sea security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reports.
Georgian Government Allocates GEL 2 Billion To Support Economy
1 million 200 thousand families will benefit from electricity subsidies and 671 thousand families from natural gas subsidies
EU Funds Georgia With €90 mln To Faight Against COVID-19
The EU will allocate € 90 million to Georgia to fight against COVID-19.
Coronavirus Geopolitics and Fighting Against Its Consequences – Why Georgia Is Successful Story
"Why Georgia became such “successful story” compared with the same situation in Italy, France, the UK, and other European states?"
Georgian President Salome Zourabicvili Visits Marneuli Checkpoint
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili got acquainted with the existing situation at the checkpoint established at the entrance to the Marneuli Municipality
The US is providing $1.1 mln in health funding to Georgia
The United States is providing $1.1 million in health funding to Georgia
 EU Ambassador on Covid-19 in Georgia
EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell congratulated Georgia on its effective covid-19 response and urged everyone to take care of each other.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger Praises Georgia For Fight Against COVID-19
Republican Congressman from Illinois Adam Kinzinger Praises Georgia For Fight Against COVID-19. He posted is statement of Twitter.
Georgia is Ready To Declare Emergency Situation Any Time
The government is technically ready for a state of emergency today, we can announce it tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, but of course, it is not a goal itself ”Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said
Mikheil Saakashvili answers Vladimir Putin’s comments
Former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili answered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment about himself.
Germany welcomes agreement between parties in Georgia
A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (10 March) on the agreement reached between the political parties in Georgia on crucial electoral law amendments.
US Embassy releases text of Memorandum of Understanding between Georgian political parties on electoral system
The US Embassy to Georgia has released the text of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the opposition and the government today.
Ambassador Degnan speaks about Preventing Violence against Women in Politics and Elections
Today Ambassador Kelly C. Degnan delivered remarks during the Meeting on Preventing Violence against Women in Politics and Elections
Annual Address by H.E. Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia, to the Parliament of Georgia
President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili delivered an annual report to the parliament today. Georgian Journal provides the president’s full speech, as it was said:
Gakharia gave Pashinyan a Kazbegi shepherd
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia gifted the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan a Kazbegi Shephard
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan visits Georgia
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan will visit Georgia on March 3-4.
How Has Ivanishvili's Fortune Changed Since Last Week
The combined fortunes of the world’s 500 richest people fell by $444 billion as the coronavirus continued to spread
"The Country is protected"-The President of Georgia, Zourabichvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili met with the Minister of Refugees, Labor, Health and Social Affairs Ekaterine Tikaradze and Head of the National Center for Disease Control Amiran Gamkrelidze
Former President Saakashvili about Coronavirus Spread in Georgia
Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili makes an official statement on his Facebook page
Meeting of CoE Committee of Ministers to be held in Strasbourg instead of Tbilisi
The meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will be held in Strasbourg instead of Tbilisi
Russian FM Calls Georgian Journalists "SICK"
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, called the Georgian Journalists in Geneva "Sick"
Estonian MP Marko Mihkelson discuses Georgia’s politics with Georgian Journal
How do the current political processes in Georgia look like from the perspective of one of the main friends of this country, Estonia? Are Georgia's foreign goals relevant to its European and Western counterparts?
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia Publishes an Article in The Washington Times
The Washington Times publishes the article of Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia titled "Georgia deserves membership in NATO."
99 years After the Soviet Occupation of Georgia
On February 25, 1921, Tbilisi was occupied by the 11th Red Army and Georgia became a part of the Russian Soviet Empire
Letter of the Georgian People to the Free World
The citizens of Georgia have written a letter to the West, appealing for help in defending the freedom of Georgian people
GEL Exchange Rate
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
April 2020
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30