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Georgia’s tourism industry lost $60 mln due to decline in Russian tourists in July

Russia is still among the top 15 countries by the number of trips to Georgia

TBILISI, August 12. /TASS/. The losses of Georgia’s tourism industry in July amounted to about $60 mln after the Russian authorities decided to impose a temporary ban on direct flights from Russia to Georgia, Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze told journalists on Monday.

"As of July, the damage to the tourism sector amounted to $60 mln. However in June, a very good trend was registered in Adjara (the Black Sea region of Georgia) — tourism grew by 40% on the previous year. Today, it is important for us to support small and medium enterprises operating in the tourism sector," Bakhtadze said.

On August 7, head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvirivishvili said that Georgia’s tourism industry had lost at least $44.3 million due to a drop in the number of Russian tourists in July.

According to official statistics, in July, Russian citizens made about 160,000 visits to Georgia, which is 6.4% fewer that in July 2018. Despite the recession, Russia managed to maintain its position on the list of 15 countries by the number of visits to Georgia this July, being ranked second.

Anti-Russian provocations and flight ban

On June 20, 2019, 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. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the 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 from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue. Shortly after the turmoil in Tbilisi, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili branded Russia an enemy and an occupier on her Facebook page, but later on said that nothing threatened Russian tourists in the country.

To ensure Russians’ safety, the country's President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting on July 8, flights to Russia by Georgian airlines would be halted.