The FINANCIAL -- In total 1,790,774 international visitors came to Georgia during the first five months of 2014. The figure is 83,977, or 5%, more than it was in the same period of the previous year.
With 436,812 citizens Azerbaijan leads the countries with the greatest numbers of visitors travelling to Georgia. It is followed by Armenia with 402,560 and Russia with 237,698. We are getting used to the idea that traveller interest in Georgia is increasing annually. However, as there is always room for improvement The FINANCIAL decided to ask a group of different tourists in the country about what they like and dislike most in Georgia.
The hospitality, beautiful Georgian women, delicious food and wine appear to be the calling card of Georgia. However, the dirty streets, crazy drivers, increasing numbers of beggars, language barrier and old buildings in dire need of restoration have been named black spots in the country’s attempts to appeal to visitors.
This is Kahramon Sanginov’s 19th visit to Georgia. Originally from Tajikistan, Sanginov works for human rights organization IBA and has come here for work. Sanginov has visited Djvari, Gori, Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe. He says that he especially appreciates the beauty of Georgian women. Sanginov also says that he has travelled to many countries and finds Georgian food to be particularly good.
“As I have visited the country many times I can compare how it has been changing year after year. The capital has become dirtier than it used to be before. There are many dilapidated houses and buildings that are close to ruin. The city’s Municipality should take action to rebuild them while they still can. I am not referring to the suburbs here, even in the central districts of the city there are many neglected buildings,” said Kahramon Sanginov.
Ksenia Zakharova and her husband Oleg Volovik are from Budapest. They got married in Georgia four years ago due to their huge love for the country. The Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II married them. The couple have enormous respect for the Patriarch and plan to name their boy Ilia after him.
Volovik is President of the International Federation of Russian-Speaking Writers. “On 6 June, the birthday of Alexander Pushkin, we opened a monument to the Russian poet on the mountain Parnassus in Greece. I now aim to open a monument to Shota Rustaveli in Greece. In this regard I am negotiating with officials in Georgia,” said Volovik.
“The dirty streets are what I dislike the most. It is unfair to simply blame the Government for this however. We, the people, can take care of our own city ourselves. We have been to Batumi. The city has really flourished and is enchanting now. However, in Tbilisi the situation has got worse. The number of beggars has increased. Georgia is a second home for us and we are therefore really sorry to see this happen,” said Zakharova.
Daragh Gleeson is from Ireland. He has a girlfriend in Georgia and plans to stay here until November. What he likes most of all in Georgia is the food and the countryside. He is very fond of the traditional Georgian supra and wine. He considers Georgians to be extremely religious however and finds this to be an inconvenience. “In August it is usually too hot in Georgia which is unusual for me,” he added.
Stephan van Baalen heard about Georgia from his friends. He is from Pretoria in South Africa. Georgia’s history and architecture are different to where he comes from in Africa and are therefore particularly interesting to him. He is very fond of the people who he finds to be very friendly and helpful.
“Language is a problem here. However, since people tend to be so supportive and kind, they do their best to help you, even if that means using Google translate!” said Baalen.
Baalen spends approximately GEL 80-100 per day in Georgia. Besides Tbilisi he is going to visit Batumi.
“I have been everywhere in Georgia. I have been to Georgia seven times and spent 456 days here. I love Georgian rugby, the metro, the friendly people and the women. I do not like Georgian drivers, especially taxi drivers. The language barrier is also a big problem,” said Petrus Jacubus Theron, from South Africa.
Michael Ovadia is from Israel. “We like everything here: the people, the nature, everything is great! The language barrier is a problem though; the road signs are mostly in Georgian. This is my first visit to Georgia and I plan to return. We have seen the whole of Europe and wanted to see something different which is why we chose to come to Georgia,” said Ovadia.
“I am in Georgia on business, attending trainings. I heard about the country from my partners. I like Tbilisi, the food, the people, the entire atmosphere here in Georgia! I have been to Gori, Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe. I would like to come back to Georgia next time on holiday and enjoy spending more time doing leisurely activities,” said Aipiri Bobekova, from Kirgizstan.
German Marie Kall came to Georgia to visit her friend. She has already travelled around Georgia. She has been to Signaghi and Telavi. She dislikes the local drivers and the rules of the road.
“It is my second time in Georgia. I like the country very much and decided to bring my parents here. We are spending ten days in the country. The people are kind and welcoming, the food is great and also the women - it is all of these things that make Georgia a good place to visit. The prices are also acceptable; they are cheaper than in Amaty,” said Dmitri Mikhambet Kaliev, from Kazakhstan.
Yasul Albayrak is from Turkey. Georgia is his mother’s home country and he has therefore always wanted to visit it. His grandmother emigrated from Georgia to Turkey. He has encountered nothing here that he dislikes. He spends approximately GEL 100 every day. He said that the prices in Georgia are slightly cheaper than in Turkey.
“Most of all I am fond of the people, who are very sweet - they are what make the difference. Georgia has a different culture, the people are hospitable - all of this is what makes Georgia a must-visit country,” Albayrak told The FINANCIAL.