Georgia closed. who stands to benefit?
The Russian President's law banning Russia's air passenger communication (regular and charter) with Georgia came into effect. Tbilisi predicts that Georgia will lose 1 million Russian tourists this year, the estimated damage to the country's economy from it will be about $710 million. Georgia attach certain hopes to travelers from Iran and China, and also launches advertisement video about the country in the U.S. and Europe. However, by common consent, all these potential tourists will not be able to replace the Russians. But according to experts, Russian tourists have a replacement for Georgia.
Aviasales PR director Janis Dzenis assures that there has been a rise in bookings in Sochi and Crimea because of the situation around Georgia. "Speaking of Georgia's part, it is about half of those tourists who visit Crimea. Now connecting flights can be used to visit Georgia or there is an opportunity to get to Georgia via Vladikavkaz, but one can’t say that Russian travelers want to visit Georgia so much, that it makes them to use these alternatives. Georgia remains the direction only of those who, for some reason, really want to go there. These may be residents of Georgia, who visit Moscow for some reason, as well as migrant workers or just fans of this direction. In progression, we can talk about much more serious numbers than a 30% drop," Janis Dzenis said.
According to his calculations, the cost of a one way direct ticket to Georgia was 7-8,000 rubles. Now it's 12,000 rubles. And it will take 12 hours to get there. Therefore, travelers decide to either stay at home or choose alternative destinations. "The Russian Federation gets an advantage, because against the background of declining interest in Georgia, there has been a rise in search queries and bookings in Sochi, the Krasnodar Territory, Crimea and Turkey," the expert says.
According to marketing director at the online travel aggregator Level.Travel Yevgeny Ginzburg, Georgia is a new direction for organized tourism: "The organizers followed the trend which was set by travelers. Organized and package tours emerged quite recently, and the growth from 2017 to 2018 was quite significant. These are mostly seaside resorts, typical for package tourists, with prices including flights, accommodation, transfers and medical insurance. In 2019, there were more bookings in Tbilisi, but this is because we have statistics for only six months. If the flights were not canceled, the seaside resort of Batumi would have seen a significant increase over the summer period. The booking period is rather small for package tours in Russia, on average, tourists depart within a month after buying a tour - determine vacation dates and look for last-minute tours."
Comparing Georgia with other tourist destinations, Yevgeny Ginzburg noted: "The average one week vacation for a family of two people in Georgia costs around 60 thousand rubles, like in Bulgaria. A family with a child can chose a five-star hotel in Turkey or Montenegro for comparable money. In Tunisia, you can spend a two week vacation on money comparable with a budget for Georgia. Cyprus is a traditional destination for package tours, here you can spend a week at a four-star hotel with your child for this money. You do not need a visa to visit all these countries. As a visa direction you can chose Greece. For an option of 11 nights in Rhodes for two adults and a child, excluding visa expenditures, the difference between the budget for Georgia and the budget for Rhodes will be about 6-7 thousand rubles."