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Whilst assessing the tourism potential of Ajara, the Head of the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, Mamuka Berdzenishvili, stated: "Along with the growth in the number of tourists, positive trends can be observed in the growth of the hotel sector as well. There are a total of 328 registered housing facilities in Ajara as of today with a total of 15,764 beds. There is a significant growth in terms of international connections as well – a total of 81 flights a week in 22 directions are carried out from Batumi International Airport which is unprecedented."

FactCheck

attempted to verify the accuracy of this information.

As the Head of the Tourism Department stated, the number of tourists in Ajara has increased. The Tourism and Resorts Department of Ajara has published statistical data for the past four years which calculated the number of tourists based upon the information from tourist information centres, registered housing facilities, the number of beds as well as sea cruise and border crossing statistics.

According to these data, the number of beds in the registered hotels in Ajara, as well as the number of tourists, has the trend of growth from 2012 to 2015.

Chart 1:

 Number of Beds in Hotels

image001 Source: Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara    Chart 2:

 Number of Tourists in Hotels

image002 Source: Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara

It should be noted that as compared to previous years, in 2015 the number of visitors crossing borders (in the airport, Sarfi terminal, and port) has a trend of decrease.

Chart 3:

 Number of Visitors Crossing Borders

image003 Source: Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara

According to the information provided by the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, the number of registered housing facilities and beds was determined based upon research work. The research was conducted by the company winning the tender and featured a questionnaire compiled by the Department itself.

As the official letter from the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara states, the research was conducted in 2015 whilst current research for 2016 is ongoing at the moment with the data to be updated in a couple of months.

The Department also indicated that the number of registered hotels in Ajara was 325 in 2015. However, three more facilities have been added in 2016 making the number increase to 328. This means that this part of Mamuka Berdzenishvili’s statement is correct.

The Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara also explained to us that the border crossing data feature the number of visitors, not tourists (tourists are visitors which stayed in the country for more than 24 hours). The Department does not yet have the exact statistics about tourists crossing the borders.

As for Mamuka Berdzenishvili’s statement about international flights, we contacted the Head of the Public Relations Service of Batumi International Airport in order to verify the information. According to the information provided to us by Amiran Mamaladze, the number of flights at Batumi International Airport is different every week. In the last week of July, when the Head of the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara made his statement, the number of flights was indeed 81 with 22 different directions. The number of flights in the first week of August had increased to 85.

Conclusion

The statement of the Head of the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara about the growth in the number of housing facilities (hotels) and beds in Ajara corresponds to the results of the research conducted by the Department. The research was conducted by the company winning the tender and featured a questionnaire compiled by the Department itself.

The data stated by Mamuka Berdzenishvili about the international flights from Batumi International Airport are correct. As for the trend of growth in the number of tourists, such an increase in the number of hotels is indeed noticeable; however, neither the Tourism and Resorts Department of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara nor the National Statistics Office of Georgia possess detailed data about the number of tourists as of yet. Only the number of visitors crossing the borders in Ajara is known and this number has decreased as compared to 2015.

Hence, Mamuka Berdzenishvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

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