Throughout 2016, more than 6.35 million foreigners visited Georgia. In comparison with 2015, this is a 7.6% increase in visitors to the country. Neighboring countries top the list. The number of visitors from Iran increased dramatically by 485% due to the abolishment of visa regulations. The number of Israeli visitors also grew significantly - 55%. According to the National Bank of Georgia, in the first three quarters of the 2016, tourists spent 1.68 billion US dollars, which is 11% more than the previous year.
Here are the top 10 countries from which Georgia had the most visitors in 2016:
- Azerbaijan - 1.52 million visitors
- Armenia - 1.49 million visitors
- Turkey - 1.25 million visitors
- Russia - 1.03 million visitors
- Ukraine - 172 thousand visitors
- Iran - 147 thousand visitors
- Israel - 92 thousand visitors
- Kazakhstan - 48 thousand visitors
- Poland - 44 thousand visitors
- Germany - 40 thousand visitors
The number of those remaining in the country for more than 24 hours in this time period has also grown by 19%. Only visitors who stay in the country for more than 24 hours and use the consumer market (restaurants, hotels and etc.) are counted as tourists. Out of 6.3 million visitors, 2.7 million foreign citizens remained in Georgia for more than 24 hours.
Tourism’s Contribution to the Georgian Economy
According to data from the first three quarters of 2016, 7.2% of the GDP was produced by the tourism sector, accounting for a total of 1.68 billion US dollars. Payment by foreign credit cards amounted to 1.5 billion US dollars, which has grown by 13%.
Despite higher growth in tourism in 2016 in comparison to recent years, it has yet to regain levels experienced from 2007 - 2013. The highest growth indicator in tourism was in 2012: 56%.
In 2013, the growth indicator was 21% and in 2014 - 2.3%, due to visa regulations. The growth indicator slightly recovered in 2015, reaching 7%.