Tourist Resources of Imereti
Geographic location, landscape, historical-cultural and natural monuments, along with the traditional hospitality traditions provide fertile ground for the development of tourism in the Imereti region.
There are more than 900 historical and above 350 natural monuments in Imereti, which illustrate culture and history ranging from the late antique period to the beginning of the 20-th century. Their locations are also profoundly impressive to the visitors.
There are various types of adventure tourism advanced in Imereti, such as: mountain, recreational, cave, wellness tourism and rafting on the Rioni river. Additionally, ecotourism has the very promising potential for development. Agro-tourism is the fastest growing type of tourism, with more than 200 farm industries. Hunting and fishing tourism have particular prospects. Georgian traditions, wine and cuisine tourism are being targeted with the special care.
Major tourist resources in the Imereti region are: protected territories, national parks and recreational zones. Visitors are especially attracted to the mineral waters and balneological resorts. Imereti hosts 53 recreational, thermal and wellness centers. Special emphasis should be made on: Tskaltubo, Sairme, Nunisi, Sulori, Satsire, Zvare and others.
The promotional activities in Georgia and Imereti in particular have contributed to the constantly growing trend incoming visitors. The number of visitors in Imereti amounted to 80.000 in 2007, 75.000 in 2008, 90.000 in 2009, 150.000 in 2010, 400.000 in 2013 and over 420.000 in 2015, 35-38% being the foreign guests. In 2016 more than 400.000 tourists visited region’s historical and natural sites. By 2017 this figure exceeded 450.000.
The following destinations are particularly popular among tourists: Gelati Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral, Motsameta Monastery, Prometheus cave, Sataplia cave and Okatse canyon. In 10 months of 2017 Prometheus cave was visited by 160.000 tourists, while 83.000 tourists visited Sataplia cave, and 72.000 went to Okatse canyon. These figures were affected by the activities of cities and municipalities at the international tourism promotion markets. In 2016-2017 representatives from Imereti attended tourism events in Almaty, Kharkiv, Kiev, Warsaw, Poznan, London, Berlin and Tokio. There is the sharp increase in the number of hotels, hostels and inns in Imereti, with more than 4500 beds.
Imereti region is attractive with the plentitude of public and religious festivities. Significant number of traditional festivities is related to fertility and prosperity, which are celebrated in autumn. Local and foreign tourists may familiarize themselves with the hand-made products, folk singing, dancing and cuisine from Imereti municipalities.
Gviriloba celebration has an outstanding role, due to its content, objective and goal. It was initiated by the beginning of the 20-th century and included horse racing, competition among orators, charity activities and public celebration in the central park of Kutaisi. There, gymnasium students organized lottery and transferred the accumulated money to the Society for the Spread of Reading and Writing, as well as to the diseased. Nowadays, this event is held annually on May 2 and is widely celebrated with various notable events.
Every year, more than 140 public and religious dates are celebrated in Imereti.