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PRESS RELEASE

World Bank Supports Improved Public Infrastructure in Restored Cities in Georgia’s Imereti Region

November 6, 2012

The project will promote the local economy by improving access to and quality of public infrastructure, enhance tourism development, and improve people’s welfare

WASHINGTON, November 6, 2012 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA) loan in the amount of US$30 million to Georgia for the Second Regional Development Project. The project objective is to improve infrastructure services and institutional capacity to support the increased contribution of tourism to the local economy of the Imereti Region.

The project includes two components: i) infrastructure investments in urban regeneration of Tskaltubo and tourism circuit development, and ii) institutional development.

Urban renewal of Tskaltubo includes rehabilitation of municipal infrastructure and utilities in the central area of the town, upgrading of public spaces and parks, and construction of tourism amenities. It envisages restoration of public buildings with vernacular architecture. The supported activities will help enhance attractiveness for visitors, and attract an increased volume of private sector investments around the medical and spa tourism cluster.

Upgrading and improved management of  the six most attractive cultural heritage sites in the proposed Imereti tourism circuit includes Gelati Monastery, Vani Museum and the surrounding archaeological site, the Ubisa Church, the Katskhi Church, the Katskhi Column Monastery, and the Motsameta Monastery. This envisages improving urban landscaping and public parking, construction of information kiosks, restoration and refurbishing of the exterior and interior of the Vani Museum, improving access roads, and preservation of selected cultural heritage sites.

The project also envisages enhancing the institutional capacity of the Georgia National Tourism Administration (GNTA), the Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia (ACHP), the National Museum, and other local and regional entities to carry out the planned activities.

All these activities are expected to bring direct benefits to the residents of Imereti and the tourists visiting the region. The project is expected to generate employment, both temporary jobs during construction and permanent quality jobs following the project completion.

A series of broad-based public consultations were held by the World Bank Georgia Office that helped to identify the needs of the region, complete Imereti Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy, and adequately prepare the project.

The main beneficiaries of the project are the residents and tourists in Imereti, who will have access to improved public infrastructure in renovated cultural heritage sites and cities,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “The goal is to attract private investments, promote public-private partnerships, revitalize local business activity, and develop regional tourism circuits. Owing to these improvements, the population of the region is expected to see an enhanced quality of life.”

"The project aims to promote the local economy in the region by carrying out an integrated approach to developing tourism, focusing on infrastructure, urban renewal, cultural heritage restoration, developing skills and making the environment attractive to private sector investments,” said Ahmed R. Eiweida, Task Team Leader for the Regional Development Projects.  “Overall, the project is expected to support better integration of the Imereti region in the broader Georgian and regional tourism context.

This is the second regional development project approved by the World Bank for Georgia. The first Regional Development Project for Kakheti (US$60 million IBRD loan) was approved by the World Bank in March 2012. The project objective is to improve infrastructure services and institutional capacity to support the development of tourism-based economy and cultural heritage circuits in the Kakheti region.

Since 1992, World Bank commitments to Georgia total approximately US$1.62 billion for 52 projects.

The concessional credit for the Second Regional Development Project has a final maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.