Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has released a detailed data about foreign visitors to Georgia. Tourists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia are leading the list and only 5% of visitors are from the EU. According to MIA, 1,793,449 foreign arrivals have been recorded in January-August, 2011 (2,031,695 people traveled to Georgia in 2010). Most of them were from Azerbaijan – 456,282, 455,611 from Turkey, 448,374 from Armenia and 176,090 from Russia.
There is a significant increase of visits in August which is the peak month of summer tourism in Georgia. Number of arrivals in August has increased by 37% compared to 2010.
Government of Georgia expects three millions visitors this year. According to the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, number of tourists will exceed the population of Georgia in 2015 and will reach five million (according to 2010 estimate Georgia’s population is 4.5 million). The chart above shows figures for last three years:
Numbers of visits from Russia and Iran have increased compared to last year. 176,090 Russians (170,584 in 2010) and 37,287 Iranians (21,259 in 2010) traveled to Georgia in the January-August period.
MIA’s report also includes data about the Zemo Larsi border checkpoint, which is the only official route to enter Georgia from Russia. The checkpoint opened in March, 2011 and since then 101,790 visitors have crossed it.
Despite the fact that Georgia has a lot to offer as a tourist destination, the main challenge government faces is the accommodation problem. Building new hotels and developing resorts is one of the main points on administration’s agenda; Ministries of Economy, Regional Development and others are working on creating new destinations in the entire country. As the summer passes by and winter gets closer, government is switching from summer spots to winter/ski resorts. Places like Gudauri and Bakuariani have been the key destinations for past years, however government is looking for new possibilities in Svaneti, Adjara and other parts of Georgia.
According to the Georgian National Tourism Agency, on average, each tourist spends $1,500 per visit to Georgia.