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The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, spoke about the increased number of visitors to Georgia’s protected areas and stated:

“The number of visitors to Georgia’s protected territories has shown an unprecedented growth – the number of visitors increased by 33% as compared to the previous year and reached 860,000. Of that number, half are Georgian citizens and half are foreign visitors.”

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

According to the information

of the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia and its figures for the first nine months of 2017, the number of visitors reached 856,186 which is 33% more as compared to the same period of the previous year. Of note is that 43% of the visitors are foreign nationals. Domestic tourism figures are also on the rise in parallel with the growth of foreign visitors. Domestic tourism increased by 37% for the protected areas alone in the first nine months of 2017 which is indeed a rather high figure.

Graph 1:

 Amount of Visitors to Protected Areas by Years (thousand persons)

image001

The number of visitors to Georgia’s protected areas has increased from 7,700 to 856,186 since 2007 to today.

Table 1:

 Visitor Statistics According to Protected Areas

9 Months of 2017 9 Months of 2016 Difference
1 Chachuna Protected Areas 2,326 2,554 -10%
2 Machakhela National Park 4,325 1,836 136.%
3 Kintrishi Protected Areas 4,935 4,768 3.5%
4 Javakheti Protected Areas 6,571 6,264 4.9%
5 Kobuleti Protected Areas 9,950 7,835 27%
6 Vashlovani Protected Areas 10,164 9,853 3%
7 Tusheti Protected Areas 14,306 13,558 6%
8 Algeti National Park 24,064 13,905 73%
9 Kolkheti National Park 26,452 23,606 12%
10 Mtirala National Park 42,085 30,779 37%
11 Lagodekhi Protected Area 44,371 41,228 8%
12 Tbilisi National Park 45,125 29,554 53%
13 Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park 51,687 48,480 7%
14 Okatse Canyon 67,954 46,853 45%
15 Sataplia 79,984 70,209 14%
16 Kazbegi National Park 132,392 116,371 14%
17 Martvili Canyon 141,513 55,320 156%
18 Prometheus Cave 147,982 122,220 21%
Source: Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia

According to the figures for protected areas for the first nine months of 2017, the highest number of visitors were registered at the Prometheus Cave (147,982 visitors), Martvili Canyon (141,513 visitors) and Kazbegi National Park (132, 392 visitors). The only place where the number of visitors decreased is for the Chachuna Protected Areas where the number of visitors in the first nine months of 2017 was 2,326 which is 10% less as compared to the same period of the previous year.

Conclusion

According to the information of the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, the number of visitors to Georgia’s protected areas was 856,185 in the first nine months of 2017 which is 33% more as compared to the same period of the previous year. Of particular note is that 43% of visitors are foreign nationals. The most visited protected areas are the Prometheus Cave, Martvili Canyon and Kazbegi National Park.

FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s statement is TRUE.

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