Georgia Lost $44mn from Russia Flight Ban in July, Authorities Say

Georgia’s income from Russian tourists was $44.3 million less last month compared to the same period of 2018, after a ban on flights to the Caucasus country was introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Georgia Today reports citing authorities.

“Tourism revenues totaled $375 million in July 2019, $58 million less than a year prior. The income received from Russian citizens alone was about $44 million,” said Mariam Kvrivishvili, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA).

The agency says Georgia’s tourism sector grew in July by 5.8% and amounted to 1,099,474 visitors. The number of direct tourist visits increased by 1% (570,482 tourists).

It noted there has been an increase in the number of tourists from many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and others. There was also a positive trend from EU countries.

It added that the number of Russian visitors in July decreased by 6.4% as a result of the air sanctions. A total of 159,063 border crossings from Russia were reported in the last month. Of these, 50,849 were transit visitors and 108,214 were tourists.

“The number of Russian tourists was 14.8% (18,851) less than in the same period of 2018,” the agency said.

In the first quarter of 2019, one Russian visitor spent an average $386 on one visit to Georgia. According to these figures, Russian visitors are not among the citizens of the top 10 countries, the citizens of which spend more in Georgia.

The estimates of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) are similar to the GNTA calculations. The NBG said that in July 2019, the Georgian economy received $67 million income from Russian tourists. It added that Georgia received $111 million income from Russian tourists last year, which is $44 million less this July.