According to offical statistics,
the population of Georgia amounts to some 3.7 million people.
Between January 2017 and September 2017, 860,000 people had
officially been registered as visitors. According to this number,
the country known to be particularly hospitable, welcomed tourists
that roughly made up one fourth of its own population. This is
especially interesting, as this statistic does not yet consider the
winter tourism, which, until recently, was considered to be the
main tourist season for Georgia.
How the “insider tip”
became a “must-see”
Around the globe, there is hardly another country that has seen a
similar increase in tourist number or this sharp increase in
augmented international interest for the country. In Georgia,
everyone can get their share of entertainment: the mountain, nature
and wildness freaks, as well as the sunbathers, who prefer their
deckchair and the sea only a few meters away from their luxury
hotel. The culturally and culinary interested educational
travelers, who have visited all the museums and concert halls in
Europe, but have never been to a Qvevri cellar in Kakheti; but
also, all the families in search for a bit of tranquility, while at
the same time providing their kids with plenty activities.
Blessing. Chance. Risk.
The “insider tip Georgia” became a “must-visit Georgia”.
What a blessing this is, for a country, which besides its
staggering beauty and its richness in agricultural goods, has
little more to offer for the global market.
What a chance for the only independent former Soviet Republic,
which has managed to set up a stable, democratic structure and to
fulfil its peoples wish for freedom.
What a risk, to fall victim to the temptation, to build hotels
wherever needed, where the view is the best; to construct roads,
wherever the drive is too tiring and the nature is yet untouched;
to shut down dreamy old-town alleys with neon advertisement and
roaring speaker systems.
Tbilisi, unfortunately, sets a bad example in this aspect and made
every mistake that had been made in Florence, Barcelona, Dublin and
Basel thirty years ago – before one realized what was really
important and sustainable.
Critics: repetition of mistakes made by others
Many observers fear that the Georgian government is going to
sacrifice goods in the name of speedy upswing, which will be
irretrievably lost, if plans are realized that are currently under
consideration: hotels in the midst of mountainous regions.
Humongous ski resorts, where the last high mountain regions for
sheeps lie. Road networks through the high mountain ranges of the
Caucasus, where untouched nature can only be reached by foot or
A country at the parting of the ways
Without doubt, Georgia is at a crossroad. It faces one of the
greatest challenges ever since it regained independence. If the
term “sustainability” wasn’t as banal, as misused and as abused,
then Georgia would have to start to intensively think about what
exactly it could mean, to take this term seriously.
The fear is that Georgia might be misled by the temptation of
making easy money. Staying within one’s own lane while driving
along the river in Tbilisi is tough these days. The irritation
caused by flashy lights of all the casinos, night clubs, bars and
other establishments is enormous. The license plates of the cars
parked in front of the places are witnesses to where the profits
are coming from – Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Turkey. Nature,
culture and the history of Qvevri wine are not of interest to the
drivers of these cars and the visitors of the shiny world.
Georgia will have to make a choice. To combine both worlds could be
a dream. Yet, it is one that is far off of any kind of reality.