Georgia until the summer of 2019 was one of the most popular tourist destinations for Russians. And even after the closure of direct flights, tourists went there either through other countries or by car. Then the pandemic and border closures began.
Now there are vaccines that open up these boundaries. This is an important step for Georgia, the country has suffered greatly due to the lack of tourist flow. Bezhan, a businessman from Tbilisi, says that Russian tourists have long been awaited: the closure of the borders has hit business hard.
“This situation has hit, of course, not only my business - almost everything has stopped. Almost until today, everything has been quarantined. But now they say that open-air cafes and restaurants can work from the 1st. We would like, of course, for the border to be opened from Russia in the first place. But, unfortunately, so far nothing has been said about Russia. Hope is always positive, but, unfortunately, lately they promise something, promise, but in reality nothing changes for the better."
For citizens of several countries, including Israel, the USA, Switzerland and a number of others, when entering Georgia, a negative coronavirus test is sufficient, plus one more test after three days. The rest, including Russians, need to have a vaccination certificate, with two doses.
It turns out that Georgia recognizes the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, but the country itself buys the drug Pfizer. Georgian political scientist Gela Vasadze believes that before opening flights, it is necessary to cancel the restrictive measures that are in force in the country:
- If we talk about tourism, then who will come to a country where restaurants are closed, where there is a curfew - after nine o'clock in the evening you cannot go out? Therefore, the devil is in the details, no one knows what will be the measures of the border control, anti-wing. There are a lot of incomprehensible things.
- Do you have any attitude to the Russian vaccine? Perhaps this is being discussed somehow?
- To be honest, people do not trust. Pfizer and AstraZenec are considered to be more reliable vaccines because they are approved by WHO and other organizations.
Lack of vaccination against covid is not the only obstacle for Russians traveling to Georgia. And getting vaccinated in Russia is not a problem now. However, there is still no direct flight between our countries. A difficult and long transit usually scares off tourists, says Sergey Romashkin, general director of the Dolphin travel company.
Sergey Romashkin General Director of the Dolphin Travel Company “You can now get to Georgia through Istanbul. The total travel time will be from seven to 11 hours. This is about twice as expensive as direct flights. I don't think tourists will be thrilled with this idea. Moreover, even in dock-like times, February was such a bit of a dead season. After all, Georgia is already good in spring - at least since March, April”.
According to aggregators, a round-trip ticket to Tbilisi via Istanbul with a departure on February 6 costs from 25 thousand rubles. At the moment, this is the most convenient route. However, many Russians are used to traveling to Georgia by car and are waiting for the land border to be opened. There is no certainty here yet.