On 28 December 2015, whilst presenting a government programme at the extra plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, stated: "We made special efforts in order to develop tourism. This year, we already have an 8% growth in the number of visitors. The number of visitors will reach 5.8 million by the end of the year."

According to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, a total of 466 thousand visitors entered Georgia in December 2015, surpassing the numbers recorded in December 2014 by 7%. As for the number of visitors recorded in the 12 months of the previous year, it reached 5.9 million which is 7% more than it was at the end of the previous year.

Chart 1:

 Number of International Travellers Entering Georgia from 2006 to 2015

image001

As the chart makes clear, the growth of the number of visitors entering the country was quite high from 2006 to 2013. In 2014, however, the number of visitors increased by just 2%. This was due to the incorrect visa policies implemented in the country as well as the tough economic conditions in the wider region. The growth of the number of visitors in 2015 was greatly influenced by enacting the electronic visa portal and loosening the tightened visa policies as well as by various marketing events carried out by the National Tourism Administration of Georgia. FactCheck wrote

about this issue earlier as well.

It is important to note that of the visitors who entered the country in 2015, 2.3 million were tourists (those who stay in the country for more than 24 hours) and their number increased by 2.2% as compared to 2014. About 1.4 million visitors entered for transit which is 25.7% more than in 2014.

Last year, the National Tourism Administration of Georgia prepared a document named Tourism Strategy of Georgia from 2015 to 2025. According to this document, the average growth of the number of visitors from 2015 to 2025 is envisaged to be 5%. The number of visitors must double in 2025, reaching 11 million. As for the revenues from tourism, the National Tourism Administration plans to increase them from USD 1.8 billion to USD 5.5 billion. Hence, FactCheck

also took interest in the growth pace of revenues from tourism as the number of visitors and tourists increases. Only the data of the first three quarters of 2015 have been published as of now which suggest that the revenues from tourism reached USD 1,269 million in the first nine months of 2015 which is USD 94 million (8%) more than in the same period of the previous year.

Chart 2:

 Revenues from Tourism from 2006 to 2015

image002

Similar to the previous years, the largest number visitors entered Georgia from the neighbouring countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Russian Federation.

We also took interest in the budget of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia over the past years (Table 1). As the table makes clear, the funding of the National Tourism Administration was at its highest in 2014 and 2015. The funding especially increased in 2015, going up from GEL 13 million to GEL 26 million.

Table 1:

 Budget of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia (2011-2016)

Year Consolidated Budget Cash Execution
2011 10,416,900 10,376,991
2012 9,179,213 7,377,162
2013 6,431,347 5,568 ,016
2014 12,753,000 12,429,761
2015 25,809,739 25,808,718
2016 22,963,000

Conclusion

The number of visitors increased by 7% in 2015 and reached 5.9 million. Of this number, 2.3 million were tourists which is 2.2% more than it was in 2014. The number of those entering for transit was 1.4 million which is 25.7% more than in 2014. As for the revenues from tourism, there was an 8% growth in the first nine months of 2015 as compared to the same period of the previous year.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s statement is TRUE.

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