Georgia has substantial potential for tourism development due to its natural beauty, varied topography, pleasant climate, unique cuisine, and rich culture and history. To facilitate tourism, the Georgian government has eased its visa regime, increased highway construction, privatized entertainment parks and hotels, and established limited tax incentives for tour operators. New developments throughout the country – including in the sea resort of Batumi; in the ski resorts of Gudauri, Goderdzi, Bakuriani, and Mestia; and in the winegrowing region of Kakheti - are bolstering Georgia as an attractive tourism destination. Amidst this development, Georgia received 9.4 million international visitors in 2019, a record number and an eight percent increase over 2018. Although the tourism sector suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it started recovering in 2021 and 2022. Tourism infrastructure development will require continued significant investment and rehabilitation of assets, such as hotels, restaurants, sport facilities, and ski resorts. The state-owned Partnership Fund and privately held Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCIF) are looking at investment opportunities in tourism infrastructure in the Imereti, Adjara, and Kakheti regions, among others. These funds are interested in collaborating with interested investors.
Citizens from Georgia’s neighboring countries made up the largest share of international visitors in 2021. The government has prioritized diversification of tourists from other places with increased flights from the Middle East and looks to turn Georgia into a four-season tourist destination. The government also promotes medical, entertainment, sports, wine, and eco tourism. ‘Check In Georgia’ is an example of a government project that supports turning Georgia into a regional cultural and entertainment center.
International tourism increased in 2021 but it still lagged behind 2019 indicators. The government and private sector remain hopeful that Georgia’s tourism sector will rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Tour Operators, Hotels, Infrastructure
Georgian tour operators report an increase in tourists in both summer and winter, particularly in adventure and cultural tourism. Despite this interest in travel to Georgia, suitable accommodations outside of the capital and the major resort areas are still scarce because facilities have not been maintained or do not exist. The seaside resorts of Batumi and Kobuleti are undergoing rapid development. Foreign investments have supported construction of high-end hotels throughout the country, such as Sheraton, Radisson, Biltmore, Marriott, Hilton, Best Western, Windham, Millennium, and Rixos, with more in development. To develop new tourism destinations, the government is promoting seaside areas, and the mountainous towns of Svaneti and Racha, by building the needed infrastructure and offering concessionary terms to potential investors.
Development of tourism infrastructure will require significant investment and rehabilitation of assets such as hotels, restaurants, sports facilities, and ski resorts. Rehabilitation of several recently privatized hotels is underway in Tbilisi and Adjara, and additional opportunities may be found in the ski resorts of Gudauri, Bakuriani, and Mestia.
The World Bank’s roads rehabilitation and construction projects aims to promote tourism by decreasing travel time, increasing auto safety, and facilitating the transport of goods across the country. The World Bank is implementing a long‐term program aimed at nature conservation, cultural heritage preservation, and sustainable tourism development.
The state-owned Partnership Fund and privately held Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF) are looking at investment opportunities in tourism infrastructure and are interested in partnering with investors on these projects.
- Georgian National Investment and Export Promotion Agency
- Georgian State Department of Tourism
- Georgian Tourism Association (http://www.tourism-association.ge/)