Mr. Executive Secretary,
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Georgia!
I am glad that Georgia has become the most distinguished, representative meeting place of the tourism sector and I am proud to say that it is a great honor for us to host you. Georgia and the World Tourism Organization are connected by many years of successful cooperation, which is becoming more and more fruitful.
If is very important for us that this session is held for the first time outside the borders of Spain, and that it is taking place precisely in Georgia.
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the organization, together with the member states of the Executive Council, has made a great contribution to this decision, for which I would like to thank him personally. Such a representative presence of delegations against the backdrop of limited mobility in the world is especially appreciated.
Nowadays, tourism is one of the sectors that suffered great damage worldwide as a result of the spread of the pandemic. However, I would like to emphasize the fact that while the Georgian tourism sector was also damaged during the crisis period, in previous years, Georgia was one of the world leaders in terms of tourism development and, most importantly, the tourism sector formed 8.1 percent of the country’s economy.
In 2019 alone, Georgia received a record number of international travellers – 9.4 million visitors – which, of course, is a great success for a country of 3.7 million. It is noteworthy that we are actively developing infrastructure in Georgia, which stimulates rapid economic growth and the development of the country, as well as the development of the tourism sector. In addition, we facilitate the raising of awareness of the country through active campaigns and international events, we ensure the improvement of the quality of service, the creation of a safe and favorable environment in the country, and the promotion of employment in the tourism sector; we create new tourism products and facilitate new direct flights which, of course, contribute to the integration of the country’s economy into the global economy, as well as the development of the tourism network.
The Georgian tourism sector, with its uniqueness and the aforementioned events, will be one of the leaders in terms of the challenges of the existing competition and it will make a case for being one of the leading countries in global tourism.
From the outset, Georgia has set two main goals in the fight against the global pandemic: The protection of the health and the lives of its citizens and the survival of the economy. Tourism has played one of the main roles in the government’s Anti-Crisis Plan, and it will continue to do so until global tourism recovery trends begin to emerge. We supported the tourism sector and will continue to do so with various programs, benefits, tax deferrals, and other instruments.
Georgia was able to gain the status of a green country and it is one of the safest tourist countries on the international arena today, which gives us the opportunity to begin a new stage of economic development in the post-crisis period.
The trend of the recovery of tourism will be one of the most important events in the post-crisis period globally, and it is our wish to be pioneers in this process, on the basis of the experience gained in terms of safety in the tourism sector. We think that the post-crisis era should be an opportunity for Georgia in the tourism sector and we want to turn the economic crisis, the pandemic, into an opportunity for the development of tourism in the country.
I am certain that this visit will leave an indelible impression on you and that the event will be a success. I wish you success, as well as effective work and events. Thank you for your attention!