Georgia reports 20% hike in foreign visitors in 2017

Georgia reports 20% hike in foreign visitors in 2017
By bne IntelliNews May 16, 2018

Georgia reported 6.9mn trips by international visitors in 2017, up 20.2% from the previous year, according to state statistics office Geostat. 

The country has seen a steady rise in tourist numbers in recent years, with visitors lured by its Black Sea beaches, rugged mountains, rich history and cuisine. 

The growth of the tourism sector is already having a major impact on the Georgian economy. Sberbank analysts said earlier this month they did not rule out a rate cut at the next central bank meeting on June 13, with the lari set to be supported by seasonal tourism revenues.

The average visitor spent GEL888.7 (€310), of which the largest share, GEL204.7 was on accommodation, followed by leisure activities (GEL164.4), food and drink (GEL227.8), shopping (GEL121.8) and local transport (GEL74.6).

Neighbouring Azerbaijan and Armenia continued to be the top source countries for travellers to Georgia, with visitors from both passing the 1.2mn mark. There was also a hike in the number of arrivals from Russia to more than 1.1mn. Turkey was another major source country, accounting for around 1mn visitors. 

Iran, while not among the top source countries, saw a hike in the number of its citizens visiting Georgia, to over 200,000. Iranians are heading in ever greater numbers to Georgia and the other South Caucasus countries to celebrate the Nowruz Persian new year holiday.

A large number of Georgians living abroad also visited their home country, pushing the total number of visits by international non-resident travellers to 7.9mn. 

The largest share of visitors — 37.7% — came to Georgia on holiday, while 22.2% were there to visit friends or family, and a further 18.1% were in transit. 

Repeat visits are likely since the overwhelming majority of visitors surveyed by Geostat pronounced themselves either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their trips to Georgia.