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Georgia's hotel owners seek compensation for losses due to tourist decline from Russia

Kobuleti Mayor Mirian Katamdze met with the protesters, promising to resolve the issue

TBILISI, August 16. /TASS/. Hotel owners in Georgia want to compensation from the authorities for the losses they are suffering due to lack of tourists from Russia, Georgian national TV reported on Friday.

On Friday, owners of small and medium-sized hotels in Kobuleti, a Black Sea resort town in Georgia’s Adjara Autonomous Republic, held a protest rally demanding compensations.

"The season has failed. Bookings for a total of 80,000 lari (more than $27,000) have been canceled. We have to pay bank debts from August 20. How can we do this when we have no income, and tourists who usually stayed here for two or three days are not coming? The state must fulfill promises and help us," one of the rally participants said in a TV interview.

The protesters are demanding that the government help them in restructuring their debts or provide subsidies to them to pay interests on their loans.

Kobuleti Mayor Mirian Katamdze met with the protesters and assured them that the authorities are already working on this issue and are considering ways of assistance.

On August 12, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said that the tourism sector lost about $60 mln due to a decrease in tourist inflow from the Russian Federation. He also said earlier that the Cabinet of Ministers, in connection with the reduction in the number of tourists from the Russian Federation, has decided to provide financial assistance to the owners of those hotels that have planned expansion of their business this year, as well as to help entrepreneurs planning the construction of new hotels.

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’s participants 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 Russian citizens’ safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8.

The day before the temporary ban on flight came into effect, Georgia’s Rustavi-2 TV anchor Georgy Gabunia used foul language to scold the Russian leadership for more than a minute in his TV program.

Russia’s State Duma (the lower house of parliament) passed a statement condemning the recent anti-Russian provocations staged in Georgia and suggesting that the Russian government respond with economic measures. Meanwhile, Putin said that he wouldn’t impose sanctions against Tbilisi out of respect for the Georgian people.