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Georgia will lose $750 mln in summer if flow of Russian tourists ceases, expert says

The founder of the Hotel and Restaurant Federation of Georgia believes that the Black Sea coast of Adjara (Western Georgia) will receive the biggest blow

TBILISI, June 24 /TASS/. Georgia’s potential losses for the summer season can reach 2.1 billion lari (about $750 mln), if flights with Russia are banned and the flow of tourists from Russia ceases, Shalva Alaverdashvili, founder of the Hotel and Restaurant Federation of Georgia said at a press conference on Monday.

"It is been two days since we switched to 24-hour operation. We counted the figures and [found out that], if the market completely closes today and Russian tourists do not arrive, the estimated damage will be 2.1 billion lari," he said.

He is confident that the Black Sea coast of Adjara (Western Georgia) will receive the biggest blow. According to him, these days a tendency has emerged that low-budget tourists cancel reservation in Georgia, and those who use the premium class are looking for alternative ways to come to Georgia.

Alaverdashvili called on the government to develop the right strategy in order to reduce the potential damage and not completely lose the Russian market.

According to Georgia’s tourism authorities, in May, Russians ranked first in May in terms of number of visits to the country (more than 172,000 visits).

Upheaval in Georgia

On June 20, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm it. In response, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. Over 300 demonstrators were detained.

The protests were sparked by an uproar over a Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On June 20, IAO President Sergei Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they stopped the IAO session. According to Gavrilov, after the incident, Russian delegates were attacked while they were talking to journalists and threats were directed against them.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8. On Saturday, the Russian Transport Ministry said Georgian airlines’ flights to Russia would be suspended as well.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has advised Russian citizens to refrain from travelling to Georgia because of the complicated domestic political situation there.