The FINANCIAL -- Georgia hosted 3,922,376 international visitors during the first eight months of 2015. The number is 219,699 (or 6%) more than the figure from the same period of the previous year. With a total of 944,029 visitors to Georgia, Armenians make up the majority of foreign travellers in Georgia. They are followed by Azerbaijanis, Turks and Russians.
According to the data of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, a total of 3,922,376 tourists visited Georgia during January-August of the current year. Of this, 1,573,888 spent 24 or more hours in the country, down from 1,576,091 from the previous year’s data. Additionally, 944,604 people came to Georgia as a transit stop this year. This was a 35 percent increase from the same time last year.
From January to August 2015 visitors from Georgia’s neighbouring countries continued to flock to Georgia on holiday. 944,029 Armenians visited Georgia this year, up from 825,344, or 14% more than the same period of the previous year. Azerbaijani tourist numbers rose by 8% and reached 932,054. Guests from Russia amounted to 642,755, up from 560,476, or 15% more. Turkey holds third place by number of visitors to Georgia. However, guest numbers from Turkey have dropped by 6% this year and totalled 926,755.
With 94,312, Ukraine is in sixth place out of the top 15 countries by visitor numbers. The number of Ukrainian guests has decreased by 5% this year, totalling 94,312. Ukraine is followed by Israel, with 38,002 guests, 29% more than in the prior year. 11% less Polish tourists visited Georgia this year, amounting to 30,180 in total. The number of visitors from Kazakhstan was 26,993 this year, up from 19,889, or 36% more than in January-August 2014. 25,732 Germans have visited Georgia this year, up from 22,992 from the same period of 2014. The number of U.S. citizens has increased by 10%, reaching 21,223. An additional 7,246 Belarusians travelled to Georgia in 2015, totalling 20,636. In the list of the top 15 countries by number of visitors, the UAE made quite an impressive jump this year. Georgia hosted 766% more UAE citizens this year than in 2014; the number reached 12,416 up from 1,434. Iran remains 12th by number of visitors to Georgia. Meanwhile, the number of Iranians has dropped by 65% and amounted to 15,290, down from 44,125. A reduction has been shown from Greece; 1,834 less Greeks crossed the Georgian border during the current year, amounting to 13,354. The UK ends the list of the top 15 countries by visitors. 12,076 British people chose Georgia as their travel destination, up from 10,969 from January-August 2014.
The main share of visitors to Georgia still arrive by land. Out of the total number, 3,335,535 used vehicles to cross the Georgian border. This figure is 5% more than during the first eight months of 2014. Air passengers also showed an increase by 13% this year, amounting to 515,850. 12% less used railway as a transport source, totalling 46,525 overall. Meanwhile, 24,466 visitors used sea, 13% less than in 2014.
Georgia spent over GEL 8 million on marketing and advertising activities during the summer 2015 period. Last year the total budget of the Tourism Administration for advertisements amounted to GEL 4,400,000.
In 2015 Georgia hosted several international events that contributed to the increase of foreign visitors. The EBRD annual meeting, European Youth Olympic Festival and UEFA Super Cup have all been held in Georgia this year.
According to the 2015 report of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to the Georgian GDP in 2014 was GEL 1,726.4mn (5.9% of the GDP). This is forecast to rise by 4.2% to GEL 1,798.7mn in 2015. According to the report, this primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). But it also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported.
The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to the GDP is expected to grow by 6.6% pa to GEL 3, 396.6mn (6.9% of the GDP) by 2025.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism. Rochelle Turner is the head of research at “WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2015 Georgia”.
“The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to the GDP (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts) was GEL 5,867.6mn in 2014 (20.0% of the GDP) and is expected to grow by 4.2% to GEL 6,114.2mn (19.8% of the GDP) in 2015,” said Rochelle Turner, Head of Research.
It is forecast to rise by 6.5% pa to GEL 11,508.4mn by 2025 (23.5% of the GDP).
Travel & Tourism generated 85,000 jobs directly in 2014 (4.8% of total employment) and this is forecast to fall by 0.4% in 2015 to 84,500 (4.7% of total employment).
This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). It also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists.
By 2025, Travel & Tourism will account for 99,000 jobs directly, an increase of 1.6% pa over the next ten years.
The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts) was 300,500 jobs in 2014 (16.9% of total employment). This is forecast to fall by 0.4% in 2015 to 299,500 jobs (16.8% of total employment).
By 2025, Travel & Tourism is forecast to support 346,000 jobs (20.4% of total employment), an increase of 1.5% pa over the period.
Money spent by foreign visitors to a country (or visitor exports) is a key component of the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism. In 2014, Georgia generated GEL 3,394.5mn in visitor exports.
According to the WTTC report, by 2025 international tourist arrivals to Georgia are forecast to total 5,803,000, generating expenditure of GEL 7,035.6mn, an increase of 7.2% pa.
As for investments, as we read in the WTTC report, Travel & Tourism is expected to have attracted a capital investment of GEL 244.4mn in 2014. This is expected to rise by 8.0% in 2015, and rise by 6.2% pa over the next ten years to GEL 483.2mn in 2025.
Travel & Tourism’s share of total national investment will rise from 3.4% in 2015 to 4.0% in 2025.
“The sector faces challenges every year and this year is likely to be no different. The weakness and potential volatility of many currencies against the US dollar and a deep recession in Russia, a key outbound market, will slow outbound spending in line with slower world trade overall in 2015. However, falling oil prices will bring significant improvements for net oil importers in 2015, easing upward pressure on living costs, increasing disposable household incomes and domestic consumer spending, and lowering air fares. As a result, Travel & Tourism expansion is forecast to continue at a stronger rate than last year, with the total contribution to GDP expected to increase by 3.7%. New destinations and investment opportunities will also continue to emerge as tourism becomes increasingly affordable across the developing world. This growth will require countries to adopt a concerted and coordinated approach to talent planning and development between their industry, governments and educational institutions to ensure they fulfil their potential in the years ahead,” said David Scowsill, President & CEO at WTTC.