Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on May 7 that Georgia intends to be the first country to resume international tourism since the new crown epidemic and will open its borders to foreign tourists on June 15, to be followed by July 1. The Prime Minister said that Georgia will establish safe corridors with neighboring countries and reach mutual agreements with other countries interested in Georgian tourism.
Photo courtesy of: Georgia Wine Promotion Center
Since the outbreak, Georgia has quickly organized 83 hotels and isolated and observed over 19,000 people. According to official reports, Georgia"s population of nearly 4 million has only 731 newly crowned cases, and the death toll currently stands at 12.
Georgia's outstanding performance in the fight against the epidemic has been recognized by the world, and the Georgian side will take advantage of this to make it an international tourist safety destination and gradually restore tourism in stages, said Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava.
Tourism is the driving industry of Georgia and the country's rapidly growing tertiary sector. Last year, 150,000 people were engaged in tourism in Georgia, receiving a total of 9.4 million tourists from all over the world and generating billions of state revenues, accounting for 11.5% of the country's GDP.
Georgia's tourism industry has always been popular with tourists for its high quality natural food, scenic mountains, old cities with a rich cultural history, a wide variety of wines, a full chain of winemaking and drinking culture, moderate prices and warm and welcoming people.
But since the global outbreak of the new crown, Georgia's tourism industry has been hit hard, and the city has gone from crowded to uninhabited overnight.
Georgia has numerous remote mountainous regions that are perfect for travelers who want to escape the spreading world of the new crown. Grigoli Paghava from the travel company Budget Goergia is optimistic that while the risks are still everywhere, it is still relatively safer to enforce social isolation in remote areas. He also said that their company now has travel reservations for July 7, and he believes that by the time July rolls around, Georgia will be a safe destination.
Some of Georgia's mountainous regions are becoming popular summer hiking destinations for tourists, but some remote communities, such as Tusheti and World Heritage-listed Svaneti, remain isolated for much of the year due to high altitude and snowstorms. While these are great places to visit in the summer, safeguarding these local villagers and tourism workers from the new coronavirus should remain the first concern if Georgia is to restart tourism.
Levan Giorgadze, the founder of Tbilisi Free Walking Tours, a website that offers free guided tours, with the amount of tips paid on the basis of individual tourist wishes, told Lonely Planet that his website will take a series of measures of social isolation when it resumes free tours in the capital Tbilisi. For safety reasons, we will adopt some restrictions, such as limiting the number of people per tour to 10-15, using microphones for explanations when necessary, requiring tourists to wear masks and keeping a safe distance, etc.
In addition, Giorgadze believes that in the long run, the new crown pneumonia will not have a profound impact on the development of tourism in Georgia, which has the ability to become one of the best tourist destinations in Eastern Europe.
Recently, Forbes.com also published an article stating that Georgia is expected to become one of the 7 major tourist destinations in the morning in the post-New Crown era.