“Why are European Tourists not coming to Georgia”
The European Business Association Georgia initiated a round table for members on 20th October 2017 at G4G’s offices in Tbilisi. The event was moderated by David Lee, CEO of the European Business Association and over 60 people attended including industry, government and the diplomatic community. Over 300 comments were received on social media prior to the event.
George Chogovadze – Head of Georgian National Tourism Agency presented the data on the market and the KPI performance of the current digital marketing campaigns. David Lee congratulated the Agency on a record year and for the excellent work performed. Natalia Kvachantiradze of the Georgian Tourism Association reviewed standards of service and challenges in the market. In particular we must provide more training and requires systemization and certification. Different products are needed, for example medical and eco tourism.
Shalva Alaverdashvili Founder of Georgian Hotel Federation focused on the need to update the official web sites more frequently and to involve the private sector more effectively. Publicis gave a highly detailed presentation on why digital marketing is so important to the travel industry. Detailed data and the best practice in segmentation were explained concluding with suggestions for next steps required to attract European tourists.
BTL had two speakers discussing the tourism sector and made proposals concerning future development, in particular with reference to business tourism and MICE. The focus on business tourism extended the original concept for discussion.
TBSC gave a comprehensive presentation concerning the advantages of “Experience Tourism” with concrete examples of how this concept could be developed and promoted in Georgia. The possibilities are many and Georgia has many advantages, but tourism product should come first.
Irina Saks, the Vice-Chair of EBA Georgian completed the presentation stage with a detailed comparison of the Georgian strategy compared with Iceland and Amsterdam and made recommendations how to further improve the user experience of the digital marketing of Georgia’s tourism sector.
Over one hour of open discussion followed the presentations. Many people spoke but Service was a common theme. The Ambassador of Austria, H.E. Arad Benko, spoke about the problems with taxis, which as the first impression for tourists coming out of the airport is frequently a problem. He noted that hotel service should be improved, for example the practice of payment for mini-bars can cause offence. Whist the country’s mountains and countryside are wonderful but the tourism sector has many areas that require improvement.
Ioulia Sauthier, Cheffe du Service Economique à Tbilissi, at the French Embassy made an important point in the need to initiate a second wave of child friendly services with a much greater focus on service.
Thomas Schroll, the Attache at the Department for Economics and Development Cooperation at the German Embassy made a very important point, “European tourists want to get the feeling that they are being cared for by their Georgian hosts.” Georgia must consider how it is perceived, not just how it is presented.
Jacques Fleury made the point that very few people in Europe know about Georgia and suggested that the Government and Private sector promote a single slogan for the country “The Cradle of Wine”.
Despite a record year much remains to be done. In particular the service level must be improved, “Experience Tourism”, Agro Tourism and medical tourism present opportunity. The digital marketing of Georgia requires further development
EBA Georgia will arrange a larger meeting with the relevant actors to develop these themes. EBA will continue to use social media to promote Georgia as a tourist destination and collect input on its development.