Tour Operators Form Russian-Georgian Club

Alina Khorosheva, 25.03.2014 11:38
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A Russian-Georgian Club has been created under the auspices of ATOR and Tourism Development and Promotion Agency (ARPT), and it is now an actively functioning organization that comprises the destination’s leading tour operators and Georgia’s DMCs. This has been announced during the presentation of the club and of Georgia’s tourism capabilities, which was given at the International Travel Fair ‘Intourmarket 2014’ that started on March 15.

During the presentation Head of ATOR’s legal department Nadezhda Efremova said that the club was formed not long ago – in December of 2013. Its members are Multitour, UTS Travel, Russian Express, Astravel, Travel System and National tour operator ALEAN. She also said that the club was conceived after a managerial tour that took place last year. “All companies were contented with the tour, but tourism in Georgia is still nascent, and tour operators realize that it would be nearly impossible to develop the destination separately by themselves, and it would be quite hard to promote it on the Russian market,” she said.

According to Nadezhda Efremova, the club’s members were presented with an important task of finding a reliable Destination Management Company in Georgia. Seeing how the country has more travel agencies than tour operators, it was not an easy job. Eventually they organized a tender and chose the club’s partner on a competitive basis. This partner was GTM.

The market has already demonstrated the interest in group tours to Georgia, and the members of the alliance are going to start organizing them as early as April, in accordance with the club’s work plan. Currently the companies are sending individual tourists to the country. According to  Destination Manager and employee at the Agency Services Department of National tour operator ALEAN Eugenia Balkvadze , her company has been working with Georgia for only a year, but it already has a number of interesting programs.

ALEAN offers casino tours, excursion, culinary, wedding, wine, beach and ski tours, and also health and event tourism programs in the country. According to Andrey Lomakin, representative of GTM, today’s Georgia is a completely safe country, which can offer rich and sundry holidays to a tourist.

In his answer to the TRN correspondent’s question about the kind of tourists that Georgian tour operators are catering to, the expert said: “Unfortunately, we can hardly expect tourists on a low budget, or just a large number of tourists for that matter, to come to the country – the tickets are too expensive, with the lowest price for a ticket being 500$. However, if the tourist flow increases, we will consider charter flights and blocks of seats.”

At the moment regular flights between Russia and Georgia are organized by S7, Ural Airlines, and Georgian Airways. Russian national airline Aeroflot is currently introducing the destination into its flight network. The company already has the respective agreements with the managing company of Tbilisi and Batumi airports in place. Flights were slated to start on March 2, but were moved to a later date.

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