Publications

• Following the easing of travel restrictions by many countries, the outbound international visits by residents of Georgia have shown a significant recovery, reaching almost half of the pre-pandemic level by Q1 2022.• The main destination for outbound Georgian visitors was Turkey, followed by Russia, Armenia, and EU countries. • In Q1 2022, the expenditure of outbound visitors reached GEL 285 mln, which is 14% lower compared to Q1 2020, and 21% lower compared to Q1 2019.
In 2021, the recovery of international tourist arrivals to Georgia (31% of 2019 figure) was lower both compared to European (38%) and Central/Eastern European (36%) averages, but higher compared to the global average (28%). Among the selected international benchmark countries (Albania, Croatia, and Greece), Georgia performed the worst, while Albania almost recovered to 2019 levels (89%). Compared to its neighboring countries, Georgia performed worse than Turkey (55%) and Armenia (46%), but better than Azerbaijan (25%).
In March 2022, the number of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian travelers entering country increased significantly and reached 45.1 thsd, 20 thsd and 16.9 thsd, respectively. The month over month (MoM) increase was especially high for Belarus (281%) and Russia (69%). Meanwhile, the exit from Georgia by Belarusian and Russian visitors has also shown a significant MoM increase. In March 2022, remarkable differences can be noticed between the number of entries and exits, indicating that significant part of the travelers, especially from Russia and Belarus, have not left the country. In March 2022, the travel receipts from Belarus and Russia showed MoM increase of 551% and 133%, respectively, which again strengthens the observation of the rapid inflow of travelers from Russia and Belarus.
In this issue we will discuss the hotel price dynamics of winter destinations in Georgia. According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Samtskhe-Javakheti have been among the top visited regions in winter season, largely due to major ski resorts (Gudauri and Bakuriani) being located there. Throughout 2020, the YoY HPI was negative for both regions, with a more pronounced YoY decline in Samtskhe-Javakheti. As 2021 wore on, hotel prices increased significantly and from December 2021 to February 2022 the HPI in Mtskheta-Mtianeti averaged 23.5%, while for Samtskhe-Javakheti it was 15.2%. The average monthly hotel prices were higher in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region compared to Samtskhe-Javakheti from January 2019 to February 2022. In particular, during winter months the average hotel price in Mtskheta-Mtianeti was 175 GEL, which was 12.9% higher compared to Samtskhe-Javakheti (155 GEL).
The number of international travelers increased by 471.2% in January 2022, compared to the same period of 2021, and declined by 62.3% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 424.4% (2022/2021) and declined by 59.5% (2022/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 455.7% (2022/2021) and declined by 46.5% (2022/2019). In January 2022, the Hotel Price Index (HPI) showed a significant 5.3% increase in prices compared to 2021, with the highest price increases recorded in Samtskhe-Javakheti (32.8%) and Mtskheta-Mtianeti (20.6%) regions. The number of employees in the HORECA industry increased steadily from 2016 to 2019 with an average annual growth rate of 10.1%. However, in 2020 the number of employees dropped by 33.2%. Even though some positive trends have emerged since Q2 of 2021, the number of employees in the industry is still well below pre-pandemic levels.  The nominal average monthly salaries of employees in the HORECA industry also increased steadily throughout the 2016-2019 period. Since the pandemic began, salaries have been declining significantly. However, since Q2 2021, salaries recorded a considerable YoY increase, which can be explained by the high inflation rate, partial alleviation of restrictions, and higher demand in the HORECA industry.
The number of international travelers increased by 249.2% in December 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, and declined by 73.3% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 226.4% (2021/2020) and declined by 69.9% (2021/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 239.1% (2021/2020) and declined by 53.7% (2021/2019). At the beginning of 2021, the Hotel Price Index (HPI) was negative compared to both 2020 and 2019, however the monthly prices showed a significant YoY increase from June 2021 onwards and recovered considerably compared to 2019 levels. In 2021, the average monthly prices of hotels exceeded both the pre-pandemic level (by 23.7%) and the 2020 level (by 39.1%). Looking at specific categories, the price increase has been most significant for 5-star hotels (by 12.1% compared to 2019 and by 51.4% compared to 2020), while for 3-star hotels the price increase has been least significant (by 4.8% compared to 2019 and by 20.1% compared to 2020).
The number of international travelers increased by 288.8% in November 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, and declined by 73.0% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 267.2% (2021/2020) and declined by 69.3% (2021/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 283.2% (2021/2020) and declined by 55.3% (2021/2019). Observing the total number of outbound tourism trips taken by Georgians in 2019 and the pandemic-dominated years since shows that from the beginning of 2021, the demand for international travel among Georgians has demonstrated significant recovery trends, the total number of outbound visits reaching 22.6% of pre-pandemic value in Q3 of 2021, due to vaccination rollout and the easing of entry restrictions in many countries. An evaluation of the common characteristics of Georgian outbound visits shows that the outbound tourism industry is fairly concentrated in terms of the purpose of visit (top 3 purposes amounting 82.4% of total outbound visits) and visited countries (top 4 destinations accounting for 82.9% of total visits), meaning that the alleviation of entry restrictions to such countries positively affects the number of Georgians taking trips abroad.
The number of international travelers increased by 324.3% in October 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, and declined by 71.8% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 313.7% (2021/2020) and declined by 69.1% (2021/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 331.5% (2021/2020) and declined by 57.0% (2021/2019). An observation of the total number of domestic tourism visits in Georgia in 2019 and then throughout the pandemic revealed that since the end of 2020 the numbers surpassed pre-pandemic levels significantly. The total expenses of domestic visitors in Q2 2021 reached GEL 610 million, which is 70.7% higher than in the corresponding period of 2019, and 128.1% higher compared to Q2 2020.
The number of international travelers increased by 362.5% in September 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, and declined by 73.1% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 348.8% (2021/2020) and declined by 71.1% (2021/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 401.3% (2021/2020) and declined by 61.1% (2021/2019); The hotel industry of Georgia had been growing steadily before the pandemic struck, with a significant increase in the number of hotels and considerable growth in the number of people employed in the sector. In 2020, the previously positive trends in major industry indicators reversed which had a large economic impact, causing a 37.3% decrease in the number of hotels operating in Georgia; During the first year of the pandemic, the role of Georgian residents in tourism increased significantly as they made up 69.4% of total visitors, while the share of hotel visits for medical reasons peaked over the period of 2016-2020 largely due to the utilization of hotels as quarantine zones.
The number of international travelers increased by 538.3% in August 2021, compared to the same period of 2020, and declined by 77.3% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 510.5% (2021/2020) and declined by 75.5% (2021/2019), and the number of international tourists increased by 615.2% (2021/2020) and declined by 67.2% (2021/2019); Tourists coming to Georgia have customarily originated from a small concentrated selection of countries. Specifically, in 2019, 71.4% of all international visitors to Georgia came from its four neighboring countries. However, in August 2021, the corresponding proportion amounted to just 40.8%, mostly due to an increase in the number of visits from Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; Targeting tourism markets with potential for expansion could be a fruitful approach in Georgia’s economic recovery as the pandemic eventually subsides. In particular, China, with an average growth rate in its number of visitors to Georgia of 54% over 2015-2019, and Kazakhstan, with a corresponding indicator at 36%, stand out as promising markets.