TBILISI, July 2. /TASS/. The number of Russians visiting Georgia will drop by 1 mln amid Russia’s temporary flight suspension, resulting in losses for the domestic economy to the tune of 2 bln lari (nearly $710 mln), Head of Georgia’s National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvrivishvili said on Tuesday.
"In 2018, some 1.4 mln tourists from Russia visited Georgia. This year, revenues into Georgia’s tourism sector from Russia's tourism have come to 2 bln lari. In 2019, we expected to see some 1.7 mln tourists and earn 2.5 bln lari (over $886 mln). <...> So, according to our forecasts, by the year's end we will get about 1 mln fewer tourists [from Russia] and will lose up to 2 bln lari," Kvrivishvili said in an interview with First Channel that is run by the Georgian Public Broadcasting company.
According to the official, her agency has been working on damage control, trying to put the brakes on losses from the hemorrhaging number of tourists from Russia by looking for new markets, including in the United States and Europe. To achieve this, the National Tourism Administration has launched an advertisement campaign on popular Western television channels.
The Georgian National Tourism Administration estimates that in May, more than 172,000 Russians visited the republic, and that month the largest number of tourists in Georgia came from Russia.
On June 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree imposing a temporary suspension on flights, including commercial ones, from Russia to Georgia starting July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting from July 8, flights by Georgian airlines to Russia would be halted.
Russia banned flights to and from Georgia following the unrest that erupted in Tbilisi on June 20. The protests were sparked by an uproar over a Russian legislator’s address in the Georgian parliament. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the flight ban was aimed at ensuring the safety of Russians, who might run into danger in Georgia.