Giorgi Gakharia Met With Representatives of Tourism Sector in Tsinandali Print Version

2020-05-19

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We must do our best to relaunch our economy, and do so cautiously, incrementally, observing all relevant rules, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said during today's meeting with the tourism sector in Tsinandali.

According to the Head of Government, the above concerns primarily the tourism sector.

"We are trying to do our best, and we must continue with health and the fight against the virus as the top priority in mind. And we can say that here with enormous pride, because everything is going very well in Kakheti in terms of healthcare. But we also understand well that we cannot neglect the economy, and it is a pity, it is very sad to see Kakheti so well prepared in peak season, with this excellent weather, and yet empty. That is why we must do our best to relaunch our economy, and do so cautiously, incrementally, observing all relevant rules, and that concerns tourism above all else. We all know that, in recent years, Kakheti has accumulated a vast amount of hospitality expertise, with many new hotels and vineyards built, and all that anticipates customers," Giorgi Gakharia said.

According to the Prime Minister, Georgia must use this crisis as an opportunity, and Kakheti provides fertile ground to that end.

"Such complexes we can simply declare as COVID-19-free zones with all rules observed. That is not difficult despite a variety of rules to be enforced. We must agree on one simple thing. It is not enough that Georgia is effective in combatting and managing COVID-19-related risks. Mark my words, as soon as the world defeats the pandemic, everyone will forget it. Importantly, we must relaunch our economy equally effectively. And that will be easy, because the world will change. We will overcome once again. It will take time, but the world will be different with a different kind of competition, tougher one, and we must be ready for it," the Prime Minister emphasized.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, to Georgia's competitive advantages-such as history, 8,000 years of vinicultural traditions, monuments, cuisine, culture, and hospitality-the country must add effective virus-related risk management, all of which will enable the country to set its economy in motion.

"Unfortunately, we must get used to the fact that we will have to coexist with the virus, apparently indefinitely, maybe several months or a year. We must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, and we must remember that our competitive advantage as a destination must be doubled. We must accept that, this year, we may not host as many guests as last year, but to our competitive advantages-such as history, 8,000 years of vinicultural traditions, monuments, cuisine, culture, and hospitality-we must add Georgia's effective fight and management of virus-related risks, including early identification and treatment, and that enables us to set our economy in motion. That is our goal, but the state cannot do that alone. Just as effective cooperation between the state and citizens has been key to our success, so is the same in relation to business today. We discussed this issue earlier in Batumi, Adjara where, as you know, the share of tourism in economy and regional development is enormous, similar to Kakheti, and it probably makes sense that we are starting to develop tourism firstly in the regions, not in Tbilisi, for example. There are other kinds of risks, and these risks are somewhat difficult to manage in Tbilisi, while being relatively easier in Kakheti and in the regions in general. And that is why we are here today. Our every step must be extremely cautious and well calculated. But restrictions will not be lifted overnight. We cannot jeopardize all of Georgia as a country effective in combatting COVID-19 and managing risks. And that is crucially important. Without it there can be no tourism or visitors. We must COVID-19-free, clean, safe, and green, and then we can start talking." The Prime Minister stated.

According to Gakharia, Georgia as a destination must come out stronger from this crisis, keeping the potential accumulated in the course of past several years.

"Our ambassadors have been instructed, and they will receive their respective instructions tomorrow, those developed by the Tourism Agency in cooperation with the WTO, and all ambassadors, starting tomorrow, will launch active work to proclaim Georgia as one of the first countries able to host guests and manage risks," the Prime Minister added.

According to the Head of Government, active negotiations are underway to ensure that Georgia is one of the first countries able to host guests. Israel will be the first country of origin, Gakharia added, with negotiations in full swing with by Austria, the Baltic States, and Greece.

"Yesterday, I had a videoconference with our ambassadors to 60-70 countries, and we are telling everyone that Georgia must become one of the first countries able to host guests. We will sign bilateral agreements with many, to create clean corridors and declare green areas. Apparently, Israel will be the first such country, and we enjoy good dynamics with Austria and the Baltic States, alongside productive negotiations with Greece, because Greece is also one of the most successful countries in combatting the virus, managing it better than others," Giorgi Gakharia said.

According to the Head of Government, land and aerial border crossing points are vital in this process, as well as transport safety. To that end, the Ministry of Health has been instructed, and protocols have been developed to be used by tourism sector representatives.
"Both land and aerial border crossing points are vital in this process. To that end, the Ministry of Health has been instructed, and protocols have been developed. Tests and other procedures must be carried out on the ground, all of which will be accomplished within the deadlines announced by us.

Transport safety, along with many other relevant details, is extremely important for protecting visitors from COVID-19. Importantly, you will be able to obtain these protocols from the Health Ministry and the Tourism Agency and gradually engage in this process as you please, in order for us to start preparing, because safety rules will become of utmost importance," Giorgi Gakharia underlined.

According to the Prime Minister, the country will not be able to host large numbers of tourists at a time, but what matters is that Georgia must emerge from this crisis as a stronger destination.

"I understand that we will not be able to host many visitors at once-traffic throughout the world will not be what it used to be. But it is important for Georgia to emerge from this crisis as a stronger destination, without losing the potential accumulated in the course of past few years. Importantly, alongside our country's inherent attractiveness ensuring its success as a destination, we must put in place another successful component of effective virus management. The country must be adapted to that, and we must be able to identify cases fast, treat them fast, manage fast, and continue life as usual. But we should not forget one unfortunate fact that we, for some time, will have to coexist with the virus," Giorgi Gakharia concluded.


Press Service of the Government Administration