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Journal number 3 ∘ Ketevan Kveladze Nunu Kistauri Medea Melashvili
Prospects for the development of wine tourism in Georgia

Expanded Summary


The World Tourism Organization - UNWTO has declared 2020 the Year of Agricultural Tourism Development. It announces various news in many parts of the world, including Georgia.

The Georgian Farmers' Association launched a new innovative project "Promoting the Development of Agritourism in the South Caucasus" in July 2020, which is implemented in cooperation with all three partner countries in the South Caucasus. The aim of the project is to develop agro-tourism in the South Caucasus countries and identify dynamic agro-tourism farms. 25-25 beneficiaries in the field of agro-tourism have already been selected in each country. The project covers all tourist regions of Georgia.

With the support of the National Tourism Administration - Heifer international Georgia implements the EU-co-financed project "Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism in the Black Sea Basin Region". The project includes Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria and Turkey.

In Georgia, on May 5, 2020, in order to reduce the negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism sector during the coronavirus crisis and post-crisis period, the National Tourism Organization "Georgian Tourism Industry Alliance" (GTIA) was established by merging associations working in the tourism sector. Alliance priorities address agro, eco, wine and rural new trends in tourism, where the main focus is on local products and their safe production and delivery.

It is paradoxical that we should consider wine tourism as one of the new types of agro-tourism for Georgia. Today it is already known that Georgian wine is one of the oldest in the world. Viticulture and winemaking here dates back to the VII-VI millennium BC. The earliest found signs of viticulture and wine production in the world today indicate the existence of wine culture in Georgia as far back as 8000 years ago, which gives Georgia the status of the homeland of wine.

500 out of 2000 world famous grape varieties are Georgian.

The Georgian traditional method of making pitcher wine was awarded the status of a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Site in 2013, which indicates the uniqueness of this method and sends a message to the whole world that wine is an integral part of ancient Georgian culture.

In general, wine tourism as a type of agro-tourism, which combines the economic, social and cultural aspects of rural development, includes many sections between the agro-sector and tourism, is the link between these two sectors of the economy.

The components of wine tourism are: visiting wineries, wine tasting, wine road discovery, wine tours, etc. In addition, wine tourism is considered as an opportunity to develop the wine industry.

The development of Georgian wine tourism has great potential. The development of wine tourism can solve important problems: in terms of the development of the sector, the creation of new jobs, the creation and establishment of small and medium-sized businesses, infrastructure development, nature protection, protection and preservation of historical and cultural heritage. Awareness of the Georgian wine brand and the historical-economic foundations of the viticulture-winemaking sector provide good opportunities for the development of wine tourism. We have the most developed wine tourism products and services: family hotels, getting acquainted with the local cuisine, wine tasting, grape picking and wine crushing; Less developed: sightseeing of wine house-museums, getting acquainted with local folklore, getting acquainted with tourist routes; And a product of wine tourism, such as the "Wine Road", is still underdeveloped because it is quite new.

In all countries with a wine culture, we find signs on the roads that lead to the wine cellar. In recent years, such tablets have appeared on our roads as well. Georgian Wine Road project was launched in 2011. It was planned by the state and the international organization USAID. The symbolism of vines and grapes on the mark is Georgian, and the color is Saperavi.

In the homeland of wine, the "Wine Road" is, so far, the only large-scale wine tourism project led by the state. The project was first implemented in 2012. Subsequently, a number of large wineries developed new tourist services. Tourist clubs were set up. E.g. the Wine Club has launched a new educational project for the development of small wineries and regional wine tourism with the financial support of USAID Economic Security Program USAID. The project is called "Wine Village". It is noteworthy and undoubtedly appreciated that one of the goals of the new project is to eliminate the shortcomings of the old "wine road". Projects - "Wine Tourism Road" and the model of "Wine Villages" is based on wines of unique local origin.

It is necessary for the country to pay attention to the production of high quality wine. This will enable it to establish itself in the international market and turn its wine into a brand. The dynamics of recent years have shown that Georgian wine participates in the international market of international exhibitions of wine and spirits on a large scale in a single branded form. Searching for new markets and sales channels also increases the chances of attracting tourists. The diversification of this field is facilitated by the awards won by Georgian wine brands (gold and silver medals): double gold - "Saperavi. Reserve 2005", company "Kakhuri"; Gold - "Saperavi. 2008 ", the company "Kakhuri "; Gold - "Saperavi. Family reserve 2013", the company "Lucas"; Gold -  "Cellar. Condole Vineyards. 2013", company "Telavi Wine Cellar"; Gold - "Cellar. Reserve. 2007", Telavi Wine Cellar Company; Silver - "Mukuzani Iberian. 2013", company "Shumi"; Silver -"Napareuli. 2013". Company "Shumi"; Silver - "Saperavi refectory. 2012", company "Telavi Wine Cellar"; Silver - "Saperavi Pitcher. 2011", Corporation "Kindzmarauli", Georgian pitcher wines are now considered alongside such winemaking countries around the world as France, Italy and Spain. The world-famous permanent exhibition "Vinopolis" in London started with the Georgian pavilion called "Georgia - the cradle of wine" (today it is temporarily closed due to a pandemic).

On September 7-9, 2016, at the initiative of the United Nations Tourism Organization, UNWTO, the first global conference on wine tourism in Georgia was held in Kakheti (Kakheti, because 65 percent of the vineyards in Georgia are located in Kakheti). This is the most important event in the international arena for Georgia as in terms of establishing the image of the homeland of wine. The conference was attended by 250 delegates from 42 countries and 150 organizations.

On May 9, 2020, the main wine festival of the year in Georgia - "New Wine Festival 2020" was to be held, but was postponed due to a pandemic.

Tourism theorists consider thematic tourism as the driving force of tourism by 2020, where diversifying wine tourism is the only right way for our country, and it is considered as a growing segment. Georgia is a case where the development potential of the field is well known. However, the pandemic has significantly affected wine tourism, as well as the tourism sector as a whole. It is noteworthy that in addition to the reduction of domestic consumption in the country, the general international impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has suffered more, as the demand for wine, and in particular for Georgian wine, has also decreased abroad. To develop this area of ​​tourism, we need to share the experience of countries that have long been involved in this field. The government of Georgia supports the development of viticulture and winemaking, both in terms of agriculture and wine tourism, as seen in the amended Law on Wine and Vine, as well as in the project "Georgian Tourism Strategy 2025" developed by the National Tourism Administration. Together they will contribute to the promotion and popularization of one of the most important fields for the country - winemaking and Georgia as the homeland of wine.

Today, creating a brand of territories for the development of wine tourism will determine future success. A good brand, attracts more tourists and investments, creates a positive image and reputation. There is still a lot to be regulated in Georgia. First of all, it is necessary to improve the infrastructure (in almost all regions of Georgia), to create relevant bodies. As well as raising awareness around the world, the need to train and retrain experienced and qualified personnel, removing the foreign language barrier, strict control over the production of good wine, and more. Any stage of wine tourism development requires correlated participation of government and private sector at any level, which is the guarantee for the development of the sector.