UNWTO develops sustainable tourism products for protected areas in Georgia
PR No.: PR14027
Improved tourism management and the implementation of a wide variety of innovative biodiversity-based tourism products in Georgian National Parks are among the outcomes of the UNWTO project Support for Georgia in the Field of Protected Area Development concluded last week (Tbilisi, Georgia, 7 April 2014).
The project, Support for Georgia in the Field of Protected Area Development, was implemented by UNWTO aiming to support Georgia in applying strategies and regulations for protected area management and sustainable tourism development in several protected mountain and freshwater areas across the country.
In line with UNWTO recommendations, Georgia has recognized tourism as a key driver of socio-economic progress and a sector that is able to provide important resources to be invested in cultural and natural preservation. Opening the Delivery Ceremony of the project, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, underscored the value of sustainable tourism for environmental preservation. “UNWTO is very happy to support the Georgian Government in its efforts to promote sustainable tourism development. This project is an excellent example of how tourism can be a tool for the promotion and protection of biodiversity, providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the best of nature while increasing awareness of the need to preserve it. We can take pride in saying that together we have created innovative sustainable tourism products, adding value for destinations and visitors alike.”
The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Khatuna Gogaladze, thanked UNWTO, the German Government and the implementing partners for successfully realizing the project. She also expressed a desire for a continued partnership, stressing the importance of introducing more biodiversity-based tourism products in Georgia’s protected areas.
Dimitri Kumsishvili, First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, highlighted some of the features making the project prominent: “Firstly, it is a great example of successful cooperation, not only between countries, but also between private and public sectors in the tourism industry. Secondly, the innovative eco-tourism products developed within the framework of the project will bring additional benefits to local communities, the destinations and the country itself. Above all, the project has established several good practices for sustainable tourism development in Georgia along with nature conservation and biodiversity protection.”
One of the main project outcomes is the establishment of a network of biodiversity-based tourism products in five Georgian national parks, creating unique experiences for visitors wanting to discover the Georgian landscape while generating income to preserve it for future generations. Among the products created are a mountain biking trail in Tbilisi National Park, a zip line park and a canyoning path in Mtirala National Park and an eco-paddling tour in Kolkheti National Park. Other activities carried out within the project include various capacity building courses with local tourism stakeholders as well as the development and implementation of marketing strategies for each protected area.
With the final phase completed, Support for Georgia in the Field of Protected Area Development is to serve as a lighthouse example for similar initiatives in Georgia and in the Caucasus.
The project was carried out by UNWTO’s Consulting Unit on Tourism and Biodiversity with the financial support of the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conversation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and in partnership with the Agency for Protected Areas of Georgia (APA), the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA),the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation and Research (NACRES) and the Georgian Tourism Association (GTA).
UNWTO Senior Media Officer: Marcelo Risi
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