During the first half of 2018, the total number of international tourists visiting Georgia increased by 29.1% compared to the same period in 2017.
The main reason for this spectacular increase is the rapid growth in the number of flights connecting the country and the visa-free status of many nationals. New destinations are opened almost weekly in Tbilisi and Kutaisi. For example, Georgian Airways operated the first direct flight from Tbilisi to Paris and Tbilisi to Brussels, Tbilisi to Berlin, Tbilisi to Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Dortmund and Bologna in 2018. And new routes continue to open up, with Amman in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iran, Egypt... Today, almost all capitals in the Middle East have direct daily flights to Tbilisi, as is also the case with much of Central Asia.
During the first half of 2018, the most dynamic market was Iran, with a massive increase of 223% compared to the same period in 2017. Uzbekistan increased by 163% and Saudi Arabia by 159%.
Despite the relatively low number of direct flights to Western European destinations compared to the Middle East, the number of visitors from this region increased significantly in 2018 compared to 2017. Tourism from Austria shows an increase of 54%, the Netherlands 36%, Germany 32% and the United Kingdom 28%.
In addition to Tbilisi International Airport, many visitors from Western Europe arrive in Georgia via Kutaïsi International Airport via low-cost airlines, such as Easyjet and Wizair, which offers several routes. The increase in the number of passengers arriving via the airport of the country's second largest city was even more spectacular, increasing by 82.59% between January and August 2018.
Georgia is now one of the ten most dynamic tourist destinations in the world. The network of air and land routes to Western Europe is still underdeveloped, but with the new international interest in Georgia's many tourist attractions, it is certain that the growth of the tourism sector will continue for many years to come.
Moreover, Air France will open a direct Paris-Tbilisi route in March 2019.