Issue 3 2016. June-July

   

GEORGIA: CREATING A PREMIER TOURISM DESTINATION

KPMG recently published A overview of the Georgian hospitality sector. The summary highlights the tourism industry's steady growth and high expectations, as well as the government's plans to continue developing Georgia as a premier, all-year destination. Investor.ge summarized the main findings; the complete report is available at KPMG's website, www.KPMG.com/GE.

Growing sector

The KPMG report, which is based on information from interviews with hotels as well as other sources, highlights the rapid growth of the hospitality sector — including hotels, restaurants and catering — (HORECA) in Georgia.

Two percent of Georgia's total GDP came from the HORECA sector in 2015, according to official data.

The number of international arrivals to the country is now growing faster than the world rate, according to data from the UN World Tourism Organization and the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

From the KPMG report: "A comparison of global growth rates with those that of Georgia showed that during the last five years international arrivals in Georgia increased considerably faster than in the rest of the world. The number of tourists traveling internationally throughout the world was growing at a steady rate during recent years."

The report found that most visitors are coming from neighboring countries, predominately Azerbaijan and Armenia (24.9 percent and 23.6 percent respectfully), with Turkey as a close third, trailed by Russia and Ukraine.

July, August and September are the peak times for visitors, according to the report.

Most visitors are coming to see relations, the report found: "The majority (54 percent) of domestic visits were carried out for the purposes of visiting friends/relatives, followed by 11 percent for shopping trips, 10 percent for health and medical care, and 8 percent for holiday, leisure, and recreational purposes. All other types of travel made up 17 percent of domestic travel."

KPMG found that most visitors are opting to stay in hotels (65 percent), followed by hostels (18 percent) and apartment rentals (11 percent). The report noted that in the peak season, hotels had an 84 percent occupancy rate in 2015, compared to 53.7 percent in the low season.

Visitors are mainly travelling to Tbilisi and Imereti during their time in Georgia, the report said, citing data from the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

2025: "Premier, year-round, high-quality tourism destination"

The report also highlighted the government's strategy to develop the tourism sector in Georgia, with the goal of creating a "premier, year-round, high-quality tourism destination" by 2025:

- Create unique, high-quality visitor experiences;
- Improve air access from high-spending markets and internal transport networks to facilitate the free flow of visitors to and within the country;
- Improve data collection and market research capabilities in order to better ascertain the demands and preferences of higher-spending markets;
- Use the above research and marketing resources to more effectively target and communicate with these higher spending markets;
- Improve visitor services, from transportation to accommodation;
- In addition, the GNTA expects the number of international visitors to reach 11 million. It also expects the level of receipts from tourists to amount to USD 5.5 billion, representing a 6.7% contribution to GDP, and for the number of Georgians employed in the sector to increase by 85%, to reach 333,564.