The FINANCIAL -- In May 2016, the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian khachapuri declined to 3.08 GEL, which is 2.7% lower month-on-month (m/m, that is compared to April 2016), but 7% higher year-on-year (y/y, compared to May 2015).
Due to seasonal factors, the Index declined m/m in all cities included in our survey (Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Telavi), except Batumi, Georgia’s Black Sea tourism hub. Instead of going down, the Batumi price of cheese – khachapuri’s main ingredient – almost doubled in May 2016, bringing the local Index well above the national average. In all previous years, we have observed Batumi prices shooting up a month or two later, in June-July, and staying at a high level through August and September. In this way, the Khachapuri Index mimicked the dynamics of seasonal tourism in Batumi and the nearby Adjara resorts.
This year, Batumi appears to benefit from an early start of the tourism season. One contributing factor was the opening of new hotels, casinos, restaurants and other entertainment options. This growth was matched by the addition of new regular and charter flights to/from the Batumi airport. In May, the number of international arrivals to the airport increased by 147% compared to last year. The new air connection include: Ankara, Tel-Aviv, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Samara and 8(!) cities in Kazakhstan. Some airlines made their first flights in May and early June; others will being operating a bit later in the summer period.
Hopefully, the city will know how to deal with the coming wave of tourism, increasing supply rather than hiking prices.