Is tourism the sole source of income in Adjara? – this question was raised several times during the public discussion organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation on 18 July 2011 at the Press Café in Batumi.
The main speakers of the discussion were:
- Vaja Diasamidze – Head, Adjara’s Tourism Department;
- Paata Aroshidze - Economic Expert;
- Zviad Eliziani - Expert in Tourism.
Mr. Diasamidze underlined the Georgian government’s high interest in the development of tourism industry in Adjara. According to him, the Government regards rehabilitation of the tourism infrastructure vital for supporting Georgia’s economic development.
“We put efforts to attract tourists to the region not only in summer, but also during the entire year. At the moment, we think a lot about organizing various conferences and forums in winter, so tourists spend more money here”, highlighted Mr. Diasamidze.
According to Mr. Aroshidze, a mere desire to develop tourism in the region is not sufficient. Mr. Aroshidze noted that according to information published at the website of the Ministry of Economic and Sustainable Development, each tourist in Georgia spends approximately 200 USD daily. This means that spending a vacation in Georgia is more expensive then in Turkey or other European cities.
Zviad Eliziani considers that each tourist visiting Adjara can spend from 60 to 5 000 GEL daily: “But, for us not only numbers of tourists are important, but also how much they are ready to spend in Adjara. We want to attract as many visitors as possible willing to spend between 300 and 1000 USD daily.”
Hotel managers who also attended the discussion noted that service prices in regional hotels are high, but are determined by an actual value of the service they offer. “Even though our segment is satisfied by such prices, our foreign partners are suggesting that services here are too expensive. We prefer to make Europeans interested in visiting Adjara”, said Lela Tsulukidze, the deputy executive director of the Georgian Palace Hotel.
According to data published by the Adjara Tourism Department, already 600 000 tourists visited the region this year. Overall, the Department expects approximately 1 million tourists in Adjara for 2011.