Mariam Kvrivishvili: “The tourism and aviation sectors marked records in 2023.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Mariam Kvrivishvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.

Georgia recorded 5.1 million tourist-type visits in 2019 and 4.7 million in 2023 with a recovery ratio of 92% which did not exceed pre-pandemic figures. The recovery ratio was even lower at 76% (7.1 million as compared to 9.4 million) whilst calculating for all types of visits.

Tourism revenue increased by 26% in nominal terms from USD 3.3 billion to USD 4.1 billion from 2019 to 2023 – a trend in contrast to the number of tourists. However, the real growth rate was 6% when considering the change in the purchasing power of the USD.

The passenger flow in Georgian international airports was 5.2 million in 2019 whereas the figure for 2023 increased by 15% to 6 million. The aforementioned growth is predominantly attributed to Kutaisi Airport operating at almost double its capacity.

Whilst the Deputy Minister of Economy presents misleading figures regarding tourism statistics, she is correct regarding airports. However, she does not explicitly state that the total growth occurred due to only one out of the three airports. Thus, FactCheck concludes that Mariam Kvrivishvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.


The Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Mariam Kvrivishvili, underlined the achievements in the tourism sector during her appearance on TV Imedi show on 24 February, stating: (from 3:30) “The previous year, 2023, marked records for our country – records in both the aviation industry and the tourism sector. Regarding the flow of passengers, new aviation companies, new direct air traffic, we witnessed a 15% growth, not only as compared to the previous year but also in comparison to 2019 when we achieved record figures.”

Tourism holds a key position in Georgia, generating 7%-8% of the total economy. The record figure in terms of the number of tourists, tourism revenues and passenger flows was observed in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

Georgia welcomed 9.4 international travellers in 2019, including 5.1 million tourists. Despite the recovery rate of 76% regarding the number of international traveller visits (7.1 million) and a 92% recovery in the number of tourists (4.7) million in 2023, the state of tourism, concerning the number of tourists, has not yet equalised with the pre-pandemic rates.

Graph 1: Number of Visits in Georgia (Thousand Visits)

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs

However, tourism revenues experienced growth in contrast to the number of visitors. Whilst the country generated USD 3.3 billion in tourism revenues in 2019, the figure increased by 26% to USD 4.1 billion in 2023. The positive trend is evident even when considering the change in the purchasing power of the USD, resulting in a reduced growth rate in real terms, totalling 6%.

Graph 2: Tourism Revenues (USD million)

Source: National Bank of Georgia

Whilst the number of visitors entering Georgia via land, railway and sea routes has decreased, airway traffic has experienced a 5% increase in 2023 when compared to 2019, as per information from the Tourism Administration, which, in turn, receives data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Graph 3: Type of Borders (Thousand Visitors)

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs

There are three airports in Georgia: Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi. The passenger flow in airports reached 5.2 million in 2019 whereas the figure increased by 15% in 2023, reaching six million. The growth was solely attributed to Kutaisi Airport, serving 91% more passengers than its capacity. Tbilisi Airport experienced a mere 0.1% growth whereas Batumi Airport witnessed a decline of 0.3%.

Graph 4: Passenger Flows in Georgian Airports (Thousand Passengers)

Source: Georgian Civil Aviation Agency

The decrease in Tbilisi Airport traffic in 2019 was attributed to Russia halting direct airline flights to Georgia. Direct flights between the two countries did not occur from July 2019 to May 2023.

When considering only international visitors in passenger flows, Kutaisi Airport saw a growth reaching 103% - from 216 thousand to 437 thousand as compared to 2019. On the contrary, Tbilisi Airport experienced a decline of 9%, falling from 1.356 million to 1.231 million whilst Batumi Airport experienced a 2% decline, decreasing from 258 thousand to 254 thousand.

Additionally, Mariam Kvrivishvili highlighted the surge in the number of flight directions and aviation companies. There are 41 aviation companies and 89 flight directions operating in Georgian airports as of January 2024. Although the number of flights amounted to 26.3 thousand in 2023 – a figure 8% higher as compared to 2019, the aforementioned growth was also largely attributed to Kutaisi Airport. On the other hand, the volume of transported cargo (19.2 thousand) declined by 22% when compared to 2019 and, even more significantly, by 43% when compared to the record mark in 2016. The utilisation of airways (flyovers) has significantly increased by 65% reaching 232 thousand.

To conclude, although a record is indeed observed regarding the number of airports, it is solely due to Kutaisi Airport. Moreover, despite the record figures in tourism revenues, the number of tourists has not increased. Considering the partially correct and partially incorrect usage of data, FactCheck concludes that Mariam Kvrivishvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.