We spoke to Itsik Moshe, the President of the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business, about the Georgian tourism sector and the growing interest of the Jewish community in visiting the country.
“Positive shifts can be observed in many directions,” Moshe tells us. “The following data is particularly interesting: firstly, there is a 55 percent increase in the number tourists from Israel compared to 2016 and a 43.6 percent increase only in the first half of 2017. The number of direct flights from Israel exceeds 80 per month in summer and the data only of June 2017 suggests that there is already a 37 percent increase in this direction as well. The number of airlines operating in the Georgian market and the number of annual international flights has also increased significantly”.
He goes on to tell us that the interest of the Jewish investors from various countries worldwide towards the Georgian tourism industry, real estate and hotel business is also increasing on a daily basis. The increase of demand for high class 5+ star hotels and boutique hotels, as well as 3-star hotels, can be observed.
What projects are executed by the member companies and investors that come through your organization?
Our member companies are actively working in the hotel direction: the construction of Rixos Tbilisi is in its final phase with internal facing works underway. However, allegedly it will not be opened until the construction of the neighboring Panorama Tbilisi facade works are over; the high standard Rustaveli Boutique Hotel, with its original theme, is already functioning and has been handed over for management to a Georgian company; Final Construction permit for Art Hotel, another high-level boutique hotel/museum in the bath district, has already been granted and the construction works will start as soon as the investors group is formatted; and one of the largest scale projects, Kass Boutique Hotel Group’s Hotel Gergeti, is to open in 2019. Currently, we are leading the negotiations with Akoris Group in Tbilisi to open the 3-star hotel Ibis Red by the dry bridge, following on from the group opening the Ibis Styles Tbilisi Center Hotel this year.
How will the hotel boom reflect on the local tourism industry? Is Georgia attractive in terms of tourism for the Jewish community worldwide?
Let us begin with the raw numbers – in a period of two years there will be a shortage of about 5000 hotel rooms compared to the demand; a new trend of development of new directions in tourism can be observed; cultural tours are becoming especially important. Israeli House, with the Council of Europe and its Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ) and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, are starting a new project: European Route of Jewish Heritage in Georgia, the presentation of this tour took place on June 27 in Jerusalem, while Georgian society will get acquainted with it on September 5 in the hall of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. The project will be another step towards strengthening the relations of Georgia with the world’s Jewish community, which will be positivity reflected on the number of Jewish tourists coming from Israel as well as the rest of the world.