Georgian tourist numbers continue to grow despite Russian flight ban

The number of international tourists visiting Georgia continued to grow in July with the overall number increasing by eight per cent to around 2.7 million during the first seven months of this year compared with the corresponding period of 2018, the Georgian press has reported.

According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), the number of Russian tourists travelling to the country increased by a remarkable 22 per cent between January-July, 2019 year-on-year despite the Russian government’s ban on flights to and from Georgia.

Aside from Russia, the biggest number of visitors arrived from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey in the first seven months of 2019 while the most significant increases were registered from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan (from 50 to 250 per cent).

Georgia hosted more than 570,000 visitors in July, an increase of one per cent. The number of Russian tourists dropped by 14 per cent last month, with Azerbaijanis topping the visitors’ list with an increase of 13.1 per cent year-on-year.

On July 23, analysts of Georgia’s TBC Bank said that the country’s tourism growth was expected to remain positive, adding that the initial period after the flight ban is “likely to be the toughest.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a complete flight ban to Georgia from July 8 following protests in Tbilisi directed against Russia’s occupation of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia, Georgia’s breakaway territories.