“Georgia is a new destination of globetrotters”

Daria Kholodilina, Brand Development Department at Georgian National Tourism Administration

Daria Kholodilina, Brand Development Department at Georgian National Tourism Administration

Georgia as a country of an ancient civilization locates in the middle of Caucasus region. The natural beauties and historical heritages are very attractive for global tourism.

Edita Badasyan, the reporter from Georgia, made an interview with Daria Kholodilina, from Brand Development Department at Georgian National Tourism Administration. Ms. Kholodilina points out the importance of tourism in Georgia.

Ms. Kholodilina, when did Tourism Branch develop in Georgia? And how does it develop now?

Basically, Georgian tourism started developing after the Rose Revolution in 2003. Not immediately, but constantly. The new government wanted to introduce a modern, non-Soviet approach to marketing, showing Georgia as an emerging destination for wine tourism and cultural tourism. The brightest example of that time is the campaign of 2007 with the motto of “Europe started here”. This quite brave statement is inspired by archaeological findings of Dmanisi: the remains of human settlement dated back by 2 million years showcases the life of homo erectus species at this territory. Then UNESCO gave us the title of Cradle of Wine, which was a good start for wine routes development and promotion. In 2013 we adopted the motto “Country of Life”, and since then it is written on our printed materials. Though we create small thematic campaigns with different other formulas, which are chosen especially for each target market.

Why is Georgia attractive?

Georgia is very diverse. Being between West and East all the time, Georgia just united a lot of cultural and architectural trends. Modern times also influenced the look of the country: some buildings are very extravagant and always attract attention. Epic landscapes of our mountains will enchant you. Highest mountains of Georgian Caucasus are in Svaneti, as well as multiple waterfalls, glaciers, rivers! Medieval Svanetian towers, which are located in each and every household, are protected by UNESCO, by the way. Georgian food is one of the main highlights of your trip. All fresh, all tasty, often spicy… A variety of vegetables, cheeses and meat, traditional technology of bread baking – you will definitely like it! And Georgians are very open to their guests. You will spot it from the very beginning: if you need something even strangers will be happy to help. If you are invited to a feast, they will treat you as a family member.

Which budget is reasonable to calculate for a trip to Georgia?

This is the most difficult question, because it depends on a person’s expectations, the amount you spend for the flight and hotel you choose… Recently I have published a little travel guide, which is available as an app at iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tbilisi-citytrip-travel-guide/id1072378445?mt=8), and the average price of hotels and food, and several trips around Tbilisi is 450 – 500 USD for 3-4 days. But it can be significantly less and significantly more!

I would like to know your opinion about how the tourism has influenced the local people. Can you share the positive and negative points?

Georgians started thinking about optimizing their houses for hosting guests; they start more small tourism related businesses. Even the old people learn a couple of words in English to be able to communicate, even if it’s very basic and sometimes even funny. The negative aspect is that the infrastructure is not developing rapidly, but local entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, demand quite an amount of money for a homestay or a drive around. I wish that quality / price balance would be fairer.

How many tourists have visited Georgia in 2015? And which countries are on the top?

In 2015 our country has been visited by around 5.8 million people, which is quite nice for a country with 3.5 million residents. Now, after 5 months of 2016, we have hosted more than 570.000 visitors – this number shows a growth of 26.9% compared to 2015. Our top 5 is the same: Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Russia, and Ukraine. Talking about the Koreans – this year 1243 citizens of Korea have traveled to Georgia. The tourist flow from Iran and UAE is immense! We expect 6 million people this year. It’s a must!

How are you engaging the new countries? I know you were in the Republic of Korea recently, are you going to develop this branch and so how do you want to attract the Asian countries?

Our main tools of influencing our target markets are participation at travel fairs and the campaigns: digital, print, TV… This year we took part in KOTFA travel show in Seoul, and the most popular question was – what is your country famous for? Then we came up with wine, and people were going crazy. They really liked it! Also, we have digital ads in Korea, and one time per year there is a press trip for local media. Among the other Asian countries our big partner is China. We deepen our cooperation in tourism and economic fields, there are a lot of Chinese investments in Georgia, the wine export grows, the new flights appear… Life is getting easier, as there is an airline! By the way, we heard the rumors that one of Kazakh airlines wants to connect Seoul and Tbilisi via a flight to Astana. It would be so great to have another connection! We are very pleased to welcome more Korean guests and surprise them with our nature, culture and cuisine.

Natural Beauties Georgian Regions

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Svaneti, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Ananuri, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

Signagi, Georgia. Photos: Edita Badasyan

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