Even though Georgia has always been an attractive destination for tourists, its popularity has increased unprecedentedly in recent years as more and more foreign travelers started to flood in.
7,554,936 international tourists visited Georgia in 2017, resulting in + 18.8% growth with 1,194,433 more people coming than the year before.
The unparalleled growth of Georgia tourism has been featured by a number of premier international editions, such as Emerging Europe, an intelligence platform positioned in London and Forbes, which devoted a broad article to the nation’s emerging tourism strategy in 2017.
According to this article authored by Craig Turp, Georgia tourism taking off sharply in 2012, jumped from 2.8 million travelers to 4.4 million in the period of 12 months.
“It was 2017 which really placed the country on the map: more than 7.5 million people visited Georgia, an increase of 18 percent in 2016. The number of visitors from Western Europe increased by almost 30 percent,” says the article.
The news network CNN has featured Tbilisi as “an almost overnight must-see destination, the city increasingly becoming one of the world’s most coveted hubs for fashion, arts, and creativity.”
According to UNWTO, Georgia holds the fourth place after Egypt, Vietnam, and Togo, among those nations that saw the most substantial increase in the number of international travelers.
In 2017 Georgia ranked 7th safest state out of 125, according to the International Crime Index.
In the same year, Georgia topped the list of nations in the category “Gastronomic and agrotourism,” as reported by an online version of National Geographic Traveler. The list of nations leading in various nominations is composed on the bases of the results of online voting on the website.
36% of users mentioned Georgia as the most desired country for gastronomic and agritourism. Italy was on the second place with 26%, and Belarus ranked third with 13%.
In addition to its apparent success in gastronomic tourism, Georgia ranked third in the “Ski vacation” category with 10%, lagging behind only Switzerland (44%) and Austria (32%).
Although the tourism revenues in Georgia are not particularly high in dollar amounts compared to other countries, it holds a notably high 15% share in nations total GDP. For Montenegro, this indicator is 21%, for Croatia 19%. Greece tourism, for example, has less than an 8% contribution to GDP.
The spendings of foreign travelers to Georgia have a substantial effect on the payments exchange balance, and nearly 36% of Georgia’s products that support export earnings are derived from tourism.
41% of Georgia’s land is covered by fertile forests, with about 25% of total territory lying within national parks. Protected regions of Georgia offer different services including birdwatching, hiking, boating tours, horse riding, safari tours, etc.
Georgia is currently home to approximately 5,601 animal species, including 648 representatives of vertebrates (more than 1 percent of all species found worldwide) and a large part of these species are endemics.
310,477 foreigners and 424,397 domestic tourists visited Protected Areas of Georgia in 2016. The preferred attractions were Kazbegi National Park, Prometheus Cave, and Sataplia Managed Reserve.
At August 2017, there have been an almost 2000 housing units registered in the GNTA database. The most widespread form of lodging are hotels (41,123 beds), and Family Guesthouses (11,374 beds). During 2017, about 60 new hotels with 3,894 beds have been opened. By the end of 2019, another 194 resorts, with a combined bed amount of 21,216 are going to open.
Hotel chains involved in Georgia tourism include Holiday Inn, Radisson Hotels, Courtyard, Millennium Hotel, Mercure, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Sheraton Hotels and Resorts.
Batumi and Tbilisi feature numerous casinos which, apart from western travelers, draw tourists from Turkey and other Muslim countries, where gambling is prohibited.
Based on the Georgian National Tourism Administration data, the average traveler in Georgia spends about 1144 GEL. In the second quarter of 2017, the largest share of tourism spending came on food and beverages (27% total) followed by accommodation (22.1% total). Among other neighboring countries, an average traveler from Russian Federation was spending the highest amount of 1,253 GEL per trip, followed by Turkish visitors with 865 GEL, Armenians 578 GEL, and Azerbaijanis with 349 GEL. Europian Tourists (from central and eastern part) spent on average 2049 GEL per trip, other representatives of Europe spent 2726 GEL, and travelers from the rest of the world spent 2653 GEL on average.