Financial Tribune – Iran was one of the top five origins that sent a considerable number of tourists to Georgia during the first 10 months of 2018, according to a Georgian official.
“From January to October, a total of 7.5 million tourists visited the former Soviet republic, about 262,000 of whom were Iranians,” Giorgi Chogovadze, the head of Georgian National Tourism Administration, was quoted as saying by Sputnik Georgia.
According to statistics disclosed by the administration, Russian tourists accounted for the highest number of tourists to Georgia during the aforementioned period with about 1.24 million. They were followed by about 1.2 million tourists from Azerbaijan, about 1.06 from Armenia and 965,910 from Turkey.
Iran was fifth as 262,261 Iranians travelled to the neighboring country that lies at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and has Tbilisi as its popular capital.
The number of Iranians travelling to Georgia has steadily increased ever since the two countries signed a visa-free travel agreement in 2016. Iran’s Ambassador to Georgia Javad Qavamshahidi said in late August that 323,000 Iranians have visited Georgia in the last 12 months and this may increase to one million in the next year.
There are multiple incentives for Iranians to visit the country in the Caucasus region. For one thing, rents, costs of living and inflation are much lower there compared to Iran that has just been hit with the renewed US sanctions and is facing a significant economic downturn that comes with rising living costs.
A portion of the interest shown by Iranians to Georgia is due to the historical and cultural ties between the two nations, which date back to several centuries.
But more importantly, Iranians also view Georgia as a gateway to Europe. Many of them have relocated from Iran to fully move to and invest in Georgia.
According to figures released by the Georgian tourism authority, the number of foreign tourists visited that country showed an 11% year-on-year increase.
Chogovadze predicted that the total number of foreign tourists visiting the country will reach 8.5 million by the end of 2018.
Tourism accounted for a significant 7.1% of Georgia’s total GDP in the first half of the current year, up by 17.6% compared to the year before. The country does not boast many natural resources, so it has successfully focused on its tourism sector to earn revenues. It boasts many natural attractions such as forests and mountainous ranges, in addition to having beautiful beaches by the Black Sea.