The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, in his talk about tourism stated: "For the first time in the history of Georgia’s mountain resorts, we have made artificial snow for the ski slopes. As a result of this, the number of visitors rose by 40% in Gudauri and by 20% in Didveli."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

According to the information of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia, making artificial snow for Georgia’s ski slopes was indeed carried out for the first time this year. The process covered the Gudauri and Bakuriani skiing resorts for the 2014-2015 skiing season. An Administration representative who spoke with FactCheck

during an interview indicated that Georgia’s skiing season lasts three months on average although this period was extended to five months (December-April) owing to the artificial snow.

We contacted the National Tourism Administration of Georgia to obtain information about whether or not the artificial snowmaking had a positive impact upon the number of visitors. According to the Administration’s information, exact data is currently unavailable. Visitor statistics (for Gudauri and Didveli) are compiled by the Mountain Resorts Development Company (a state-owned company) through an Austrian electronic database (SKYDATA). The calculation of the number of visitors is carried out by registering the number of tickets sold for the ski lift.

Table 1:

 Number of Visitors to Gudauri (2011-2015)

Quantity Difference in Percentage
2011-2012 Season 61,268
2012-2013 Season 82,905 35%
2013-2014 Season 59,770 -27%
2014-2015 Season 116,027 94%

As illustrated by the above table, the number of visitors to Gudauri did increase significantly in the 2014-2015 skiing season. Gudauri had 94% more visitors in 2014-2015 as compared to 2013-2014. Of particular note is that the high growth rate is caused to some extent by a 27% drop in the number of tourists in 2013 as compared to 2012. If we compare the data of the 2012-2013 skiing season to that of 2014-2015, we will see that Gudauri had 40% more visitors for the 2014-2015 skiing season.

As for Bakuriani’s Didveli resort, the number of visitors was 126,370 for the 2014-2015 skiing season. According to the information of the Mountain Resorts Development Company, there is no information about the number of visitors to Bakuriani (Didveli) for the 2013-2014 skiing season. The Company began to work with Bakuriani only in 2014. Approximate statistics looking at the previous 2013-2014 skiing season are possible only by comparing the total amount of tickets sold for the ski lift to the analogous data for the 2014-2015 skiing season. Based upon that information, therefore, we can conclude that the number of visitors to Bakuriani rose by 20% on average this year.

Conclusion

According to the information of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia, the making of artificial snow for Georgia’s ski slopes was indeed carried out for the first time. As a result, the duration of the skiing season at the Gudauri and Didveli skiing resorts increased from three to five months (December-April).

In terms of the growth of the number of visitors, according to the information of the Mountain Resorts Development Company, the number of visitors to Gudauri rose by 94% for the 2014-2015 skiing season as compared to 2013-2014 and by 40% as compared to 2012-2013.

The Mountain Resorts Development Company began working with Bakuriani only in 2014 and so the precise number of tickets sold for the ski lift in previous years is unknown. However, considering the total annual turnover from the sold tickets, we can conclude that the number of visitors to Didveli rose by 20% in 2014-2015 as compared to 2013-2014.

Therefore, Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement about the growth of the number of visitors to the Gudauri and Bakuriani skiing resorts is TRUE.

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