TBILISI, December 3, 2019 – Tourism, Georgia’s fastest growing service export, can play a key role integrating the country into global value chains (GVCs), benefitting local firms and the wider economy, says a new World Bank report, Beyond Arrivals – Emerging Opportunities for Georgian Firms in Tourism Value Chains.
Presented jointly today by representatives of the World Bank and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the report is part of the Bank’s longstanding engagement with the Government of Georgia in developing the country’s tourism potential through regional development.
The report focuses on answering the following questions: how are emerging trends changing the structure of tourism Global Value Chains and how can Georgian firms benefit from these changes? And what policy reforms, capital investment and skills development are needed to increase Georgia’s competitiveness in tourism value chains?
“Traditional activities such as culinary services, accommodation, guides, and hospitality training will continue to be the cornerstone of tourism but, as the structures of Global Value Chains change, Georgia will have an opportunity to compete for emerging higher-value-added activities,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “Georgian firms will be able to capitalize on these new opportunities, but only if they are equipped and able to compete with foreign firms.”
Currently, Georgia’s tourism industry is oriented toward low-spending neighboring markets, such as Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. This is largely a legacy of Georgia’s reputation during the Soviet period as a popular recreational destination. Despite significant increases from China and India to the global tourism market, visitors to Georgia from the top global tourism markets represented just 7.3 percent of all visitors to the country in 2018.
To boost its tourism potential, the Government of Georgia launched “Georgia Tourism 2025” in 2015 – a 10-year vision and strategic plan for increasing the value and importance of tourism in the country. Developed with support from the World Bank Group, the plan focuses on infrastructure development, marketing and promotion, service quality improvement, and tourism product diversification.
As part of this strategic plan, the Government has identified 26 key source markets – based on accessibility, economic factors, cultural relations, and other factors such as size of diaspora, historical ties and language barriers. The Government has also developed a marketing and promotional strategy to communicate Georgia’s brand, and visual and verbal identity, to high-growth, high-spend source markets.