The FINANCIAL -- Caucasus Travel, incoming tour operator in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, taking actions to keep growing in the South Caucasus, especially in Georgia.
With its renewed office in Georgia’s Black Sea resort town Batumi, Caucasus Travel is ready to meet this year’s summer season. Meanwhile, the company’s management intends to diversify its consumer market and conquer new ones.
Caucasus Travel has been a leading incoming tour operator specialised in cultural, adventure and tailor-made tours for groups and independent travellers to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1991.
Today, Caucasus Travel is the company of choice for more than 200 tour operators, travel agencies, incentive houses, conference organisers and professional associations all over the world.
The high professionalism of staff, reliability, innovation, perfection of product and high quality services have always been the basis and guarantee of numerous clients’ satisfaction.
Caucasus Travel offers all-inclusive tours: cultural; adventure; religious; photography and filming; ecological; wildlife; scientific expeditions; youth camps; 4X4 Jeep Safari; agricultural; wine tours, etc.
At the same time, Caucasus Travel is diverse in terms of its services. Cruises, Business Travel Assistance & FIT services offer hotel reservation, guide service, car rental, technical assistance, and Management of Incentive Groups.
After successful completion of the year 2015, for which Caucasus Travel won a Golden Brand Award for the second time, the company started the year 2016 with high expectations. However, Maia Kiknadze, General Director of Caucasus Travel, did mention the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to disputes related to the Karabakh region. Kiknadze said that international travellers had raised questions over safety while travelling in the South Caucasus region, especially tourists from Japan and Western European countries.
Despite the fact that the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has had a negative impact on planned tours and some of them had to be cancelled as a result, Caucasus Travel still managed to keep developing and doing its best to end the season with success.
Q. Recently the Georgian Government has been actively trying to develop tourism in Georgia. For example, ‘Check in Georgia’ is one of the programmes that aims to boost tourism development in the country. The Government is also working on creating a long-term tourism strategy. How would you estimate these recent developments in the tourism sector?
A. The ‘Check in Georgia’ programme would definitely increase awareness of Georgia on the international arena. The programme will also help to attract more international visitors, especially from neighbouring countries.
Any actions that are taken to popularize Georgia are very important for introducing our country to foreigners. Such activities may include advertising campaigns; taking part in international exhibitions; and organizing press tours in Georgia to let journalists discover the hidden beauty of Georgia and then tell it to the world. As a result, Georgia will step by step be positioned on the international market as a tourist spot.
Q. How easy is it for Caucasus Travel to attract international tourists to Georgia?
A. Georgia is a very attractive country for tourists. Rich cultural heritage and iconic historic-architectural places; unique traditions and diverse landscape; wine and the most delicious cuisine - all of these combine to make Georgia a splendid place to travel to.
Unfortunately however, Georgia remains infamous for a large part of the world.
The state as well as private sector are doing their best and putting huge efforts into popularizing Georgia further.
Q. What is Caucasus Travel’s contribution to increasing the number of international visitors to Georgia?
A. Georgia’s reputation as a tourist hotspot is growing; the country hosted 20 percent more tourists in April 2016 than in April last year, official figures show. This is a very good indicator and of course our company plays a big part in attracting tourists to Georgia.
Caucasus Travel was established in 1991 and was the first tourism company in the history of independent Georgia. The company had to work during the most difficult and challenging period in the country. The contribution of Caucasus Travel (and other tourism companies created later on) has been huge in forming the tourism industry in Georgia. We created the services and promoted Georgia as a tourist hotspot.
Over the years Caucasus Travel has had to explain to the world that Georgia is neither Russia nor the United States, but is an independent country with its own unique language, culture and history.
Our market is very differentiated. We host tourists from a number of countries, but the highest number of visitors who come to Georgia are from the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany and Russia.
Last year we hosted 11 percent more tourists than in 2014. The majority of them, 70-80 percent, were interested in discovering the historical and cultural heritage of Georgia.
Our tourists are always very satisfied with our service and with our country. Mostly they love to experience Georgian hospitality, to taste Georgian wine and cuisine and see untouched nature.
Q. Do you participate in international tourism exhibitions and how do they help to introduce your company and Georgia to international visitors?
A. Every year Caucasus Travel participates in about 25-30 tourism exhibitions in different countries. The role of such exhibitions is to raise awareness of the country and attract more tourists. The international exhibitions help to establish communication with international partners in different parts of the world and increase the sales volume of tour packages.
Taking into account all of these benefits, it is one of our marketing tools to participate in international exhibitions and trade shows.
Q. Besides Georgia, Caucasus Travel also operates in Azerbaijan and Armenia. How would you characterise these three markets?
A. Tourists come to all three countries to learn more about their culture and history.
Despite the fact that this region is small and all three countries are located very near to each other, they are still very different.
Three countries; three different religions; three different languages; traditions; lifestyles; climate and landscape - it is this very special diversity which attracts so many tourists.