On 30 September 2014, as a guest of Rustavi 2’s Archevani

 programme, Zurab Japaridze stated:  “The number of visitors [to Georgia] decreased for the first time this year.”

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

According to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, a total of 4,187,595 people visited Georgia from January to September 2014 which is 2% more than in 2013.

In his conversation with FactCheck,

Mr Japaridze stated that what he had in mind in his statement were the specific months of 2014 in which a decrease in the number of visitors was recorded. We analysed the data of each month separately together with the annual statistics.

If we compare the data of separate months of 2014 with those of the months of the previous year, it is clear that there is a trend of decrease in some of them. Specifically, there has been a decrease in the number of visitors in May, June, August and September 2014 as compared to the same months of the previous year. FactCheck

looked into the data of each month from 2006 to date.

Table 1:

 Number of Visitors by Months (2006-2014)

image001

As the table makes clear, there is a decrease in August and September 2008 and also in three months of 2009 as compared to the same months of the previous years. It should be noted that in 2008 and 2009, which is the immediate aftermath of the war, the number of visitors decreased only in five months whilst we have a decrease in four of the nine months so far this year.

FactCheck

took interest in the dynamics of the growth of visitor numbers in recent years as well.

Chart 1:

 Growth of the Number of Visitors Crossing the Georgian State Border (January to September 2006-2014)

image001

As we only possess the data of the first three quarters of 2014, we compared these to the data of the same periods of the year from 2006 to 2014. As is clear from the chart, the number of visitors has been growing each year from 2007 to 2014 in the first three quarters of the year. The lowest levels of growth were recorded in 2008, 2009 and 2013, both during the first nine months and during the whole year. However, it should also be noted that the minimum level of growth in the first three quarters from 2007 to 2013 was 11%. The 2% growth of 2014 is significantly lower than those of the previous years.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that the growth of the number of visitors to Georgia has not been as high as in the previous years, there still was a 2% growth in the first three quarters of 2014.

As for the specific months of 2014, there has indeed been a decrease in some of them as compared to the same months of the previous year. However, this has not been the first instance as stated by the MP. The same trend was recorded in 2008 and 2009 as well when the number of visitors decreased during five months as compared to the same months of the previous years.

FactCheck concludes that Zurab Japaridze’s statement: “The number of visitors [to Georgia] decreased for the first time this year,” is HALF TRUE.

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