On 15 January 2015, as a guest on Maestro TV, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, stated that the new visa regulations have significantly hindered the influx of both tourists and labourers from China.


took interest in whether or not the Minister’s statement was true and verified its accuracy.

Since September 2014, Georgia has introduced a new law entitled the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons. According to the Law, a C1-type visa will be issued for those persons who visit Georgia for tourism purposes and a C2-type visa will be issued for those individuals who plan to visit family members. One has to obtain a C3-type visa to come to Georgia for business meetings and other activities or to perform journalistic work. D1-type visas will be issued for those who visit Georgia to conduct labour activities and a D2-type visa is required to conduct entrepreneurial activity in the country.

Visitors were able to obtain all of these types of visas at the state border of Georgia and at Public Service Halls before 1 September 2014. However, after the new Law went into force visitors have to apply for their visas at Georgia’s diplomatic representations and consulates abroad. As a result of legislative changes, the duration of stay for foreigners who have obtained those aforementioned visas is a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Visa free nationals are subject to the same duration of stay conditions. Visas are also divided into long-term visas and short-term visas, single entry visas and multiple entry visas. Multiple entry visas are issued for no more than five years but even in this case, the duration of the stay for a visitor is limited to a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. For instance, if a visitor is able to obtain a multiple entry D1-type visa, he or she has to leave Georgian territory after 90 days and come back after a further 90 days which is a significant problem for those labourers who work on a contractual basis.

With respect to tourist visas, they are issued for 30 days. A C1-type visa for 90 days can be issued in the case of a person visiting the country for a second time. If we look at the particular issue of Chinese tourists travelling to Georgia on the Urumqi-Tbilisi flight, the fact that there is no Georgian consulate in Urumqi means that a visitor must first go to Beijing, some 3,177 km away, and spend ten-to-30 days there while the visa is being processed and then issued before returning to Urumqi and flying to Tbilisi. Naturally, this creates a very complicated set of procedures for a tourist who typically has both limited time and resources.

The new visa regulations are discussed in a policy brief

published by Georgia’s Reforms Associates. The brief analyses the complications originating from the regulations and highlights the problems for citizens of many different countries, including China.

According to statistical data of the National Tourism Agency of Georgia, a total of 8,830 visitors from China came to Georgia in 2013. The number dropped to 8,598 in 2014 which is a 3% decrease as compared to the previous year. It must be noted that the period of the very sharp reduction in the number of visitors coincides with the fourth quarter of the year; that is, when the new Law went into force (see Graphs 1 and 2).

Graph 1:

Quarterly Statistical Data of Visitors from China


Graph 2:

Monthly Statistical Data of Visitors from China for the Period of 2013-2014


As illustrated by the graphs, Georgia received 48% less visitors from China in the fourth quarter of 2014 as compared to the third quarter of the same year immediately after the new regulations went into force. Comparing these data to those of 2014, this represents a 41% decrease.

Luy Bo, Commercial and Economic Adviser at the Chinese Embassy to Georgia, was interviewed by the Financial r

egarding the new problems caused by the new visa regulations. Mr Bo stated that 30 delegations from China visited Georgia in 2014. These delegations started preparing the ground for investing in different economic sectors of Georgia. He added that a higher number of investors planned to launch business activities in the country but, as a result of the legislative changes enacted in terms of visa regulations, their trust was lost. He predicted that those new regulations could become a problem not only for future investors but also for those companies already operating in Georgia.

Further, Luy Bo also commented upon the influx of Chinese tourists to Georgia. He stated that China Southern Airlines, which operated three flights per week from Urumqi to Tbilisi, had been active in its advertising of Georgia as one of its flight destinations. Presently, however, the Urumqi-Tbilisi flight could be cancelled as there are now only 15-20 passengers per flight whilst the number of passengers exceeded 100 per flight before 1 September 2014.

Georgia’s Civil Aviation Agency’s website published information about China Southern Airlines’ Urumqi-Tbilisi flight. Its final scheduled trip will be on 28 March 2015.


The number of Chinese visitors coming to Georgia was stable throughout 2013. The number of visitors showed a steady increase upon a quarterly basis in 2014 as well. However, the number of visitors dropped by 48% in the fourth quarter of 2014 as compared to the third quarter of the same year and by 41% as compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The fall in numbers is attributed to the new visa and emigration regulations imposed by the Government of Georgia. It must be noted, however, that government representatives asserted in the period before the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons came into force that the new visa policy would not be an obstacle for those wishing to visit Georgia. They claimed that the main purpose of the Law was to improve safety and security in the country.

FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s statement: "Visa regulations have significantly hindered the influx of both tourists and labourers from China" is TRUE.