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The Prime Minister of Georgia met with representatives of the tourism sector

5 June, 2020

Giorgi Gakharia to the tourism sector - our task is to open the economy carefully in order to get used to treating people, but tourism, industries, restaurants and everything, we have to put in motion slowly. First of all, I want to tell you that it is an honor to be here. We understand that it is a difficult time, especially for people employed in the tourism sector, and it is not easy to say that in one day everything will change and everything will be fine. However, we hope that slowly, step by step, we will return all this, - the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia said during a meeting with representatives of the tourism sector in the Imereti region. The head of government emphasises the importance of working together. "It will take us about a year. We all need to understand that unequivocally, we all need to work together. Government separately, business separately, local government separately, nothing will come out. This pandemic is a global challenge, and we, as a separate country, cannot handle it alone. Therefore, we are now working very actively in a bilateral format, with specific states, and the first one seems to be Israel, from which we will bring in tourists. Of course, there are two main directions for Israel, first, of course, Kutaisi and then Batumi. So we have to be ready. While I, and the government, are talking more and more about the economy, let's not forget the virus. What is happening in our region, in our neighbors, in many countries that are more economically strong than us, as soon as they start to open the economy, the number of infected people increases proportionally. The task of all of us together is very understandable and reasonable. We have to be careful to get used to it, to treat people, but we also have to work on tourism, production, restaurants and everything."- Said the Prime Minister. According to Giorgi Gakharia, it is important for people to know that the prevalence of COVID 19 in Georgia is low compared to other countries and this creates an additional opportunity for tourism to develop. "Today, due COVID- 19, there are very few green regions and countries in the world, such as Georgia, so it will give you some extra value. Undoubtedly, you should understand that the tourist who arrives today is a completely different tourist, he has more solvency than the tourist who hangs his backpack and travels all over the world by hitchhiking. More people from other segments will come here, they will have more different requirements and I am sure this will give you the opportunity to have more income. Most importantly, people knew that the prevalence of COVID 19 in Georgia was low compared to other countries. We have to keep it, no matter how much it costs us. It gives us the opportunity to develop tourism and other sectors of the economy as well." - stated Prime-Minister to representatives of the tourism sector. The Prime Minister emphasises that it is important for Georgians to rest and pay money in Georgia. "At the technical level, today, the Ministry of Health is already checking several hotels in the Imereti region to see who is ready to receive tourists as soon as it opens. Domestic tourism will be opened at the first stage and I am sure that domestic tourism will generate quite a serious demand," - said Giorgi Gakharia.

According to the head of the government, Georgia will be one of the first countries to effectively open tourism, and doctors, police and border guards have an important role to play in this.

"The first thing I have to do is teach Georgians to relax and pay for tourism in Georgia. I went with a relative, with my grandmother, this is also domestic tourism and we should know that this also has its economic power, we need to collect it quickly, learn it quickly, meet the standards and then we should be ready to receive guests from abroad. It will be difficult because it have to be done all carefully and wisely, though it is possible. Moreover, we can be one of the first countries in the region to be unequivocally the first to openly talk about tourism, otherwise we will open many parts of the economy much better and faster, and we must be one of the first countries to sustain this progress. We have to go through all kinds of adaptations in order to get used to it, to identify it quickly, to treat it quickly. It is one of the best infectious diseases hospitals in Kutaisi and in general, the health care system has always been strong here, we used to cover western Georgia from here. Therefore, this is also very important. Identify quickly, treat quickly, and return quickly, first and foremost to the family and the service, so that the person has an income and, basically, is able to support the family. These are simple truths, but for this it is necessary to act extremely wisely and responsibly, effectively, first of all, the doctors, in addition, of course, the police and the border. What is most risky today is being imported again," the head of government said.

According to him, it is also important that service providers strictly adhere to the established standards. "We control the internal spread of the virus and it is a fact, we do not have new clusters, if we have someone infected - we see from where. Quarantine spaces work very effectively, like buffers, when a person enters, he is there for 14 days, analysis is done and a lot of people are infected from there, so we have this system well sorted, but imported is still very risky. We cannot stop the country and international trade. Trucks are moving through Kutaisi as well. All this is risky and control is very important here, so the doctors, the guards, the police is extremely important, then you - the service providers, who must first get our citizens and then foreigners, and there are no difficult standards, thermal screening, normal disinfection protocols, which are to be implemented, will help you in everything else. There is a normal" clearing ", normal transport and it is easy, it is not difficult," -the Prime Minister addressed the representatives of the tourism sector at a meeting in Imereti region. The head of government said that what the country has been able to do in managing the risks of infection and epidemic spread should be reflected in the concrete economic consequences. "Here we depend on each other - I depend on you, how you follow these rules and you depend on the government, how much and in terms of COVID, how we bring tourists from green countries, how organized, bilateral agreements with specific countries from which we have real chance to get the first tourists is Israel, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Austria. What we have been able to manage in the risks of infection and epidemic spread, we are slowly translating it into concrete economic consequences. The specific economic result is the number of tourists who have arrived. Here we are interdependent - I am dependent on you, how you follow these rules and you are dependent on the government, in terms of COVID, how many and what kind of clean countries we bring tourists to, how organized. This applies to many sectors, restaurants, transport. Especially in Imereti, where people travel more," said Giorgi Gakharia.

The head of government emphasizes the importance of maintaining safety standards by hotels and noted that the state will provide appropriate assistance to hotels so that they can receive more guests. "The Ministries of Economy and Health have started receiving applications from specific hotels that - let's check and if I am satisfied, I will open. Some quantities are checked. Tbilisi was checked yesterday. From 75 passed 15 in Tbilisi. This number should not scare you. As you know, there are many big hotels in Tbilisi, but small hotels have slightly different requirements. Therefore, you should go through the application and see what the demand is and it is not difficult to satisfy them. The Ministries of Health and Economy will help you with all this. As soon as you get it right, domestic tourism will be the first, then the travel agency will help you. Just imagine easily - there will be hotels in the country that have passed the test and meet some standards. The list of these hotels will be known to everyone. For security reasons, we are interested in bringing the list of these hotels to our foreign partners," - said Prime Minister.

According to him, by introducing Georgia to the world - history, nature, geography, cuisine, wine, we must add that the country, compared to others, manages the infection more effectively.

"We have to work hard to meet the standards, but we must not forget the virus and we must always remember it. We have to remember the virus and we have to work hard here to insure, first of all, ourselves, our citizens, our elderly and of course our guests. These are not loud words. In recent years, Georgia has become an important tourist destination in the world as a result of our joint efforts. Everyone already knows Georgia as an important tourist destination. There are already big tourist flows in the direction of Georgia. All that we have had so far, on which we have built our advertisement, thus introducing Georgia to the world whith the history, nature, geography, cuisine, wine, we must add to all this that we, compared to others, effectively manage the infection. One should know that the brand of Georgia, a tourist country, should be strengthened by the fact that these people were not afraid of COVID, they manage it effectively and it is a country free from COVID. It is possible, only and only, together. Specifically, what you are looking for is to make sure that the hotels are as open as possible. This chain is interconnected - if there is an open hotel and if it meets the norms, more tourists come, restaurants have more jobs, and farmers have more jobs in agriculture because more cucumbers and tomatoes are for sale. Tourism, whether domestic or foreign, generates demand. We meet this demand all together, starting with the peasant, ending with hotels and owners. That is why we should all work together on this, "said the Prime Minister.

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