Tag Archives: tourism

Transcaucasian trekking trail opens in Armenia

YEREVAN/JUNE 14 2021 (The Bulletin) — The 832km Armenia section of the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) officially opened, a hiking route that its founders hope will boost tourism and interest in the Armenian countryside.

The route runs north to south and, according to its founders, rewards hikers with beautiful views over Armenia’s rugged landscape which is dotted with monasteries.

“This marks the first country section in the international TCT. The Armenia trail will connect to Georgia, eventually taking hikers all the way to the Greater Caucasus,” Meagan Neal, one of the founders wrote in a blog post. “The Armenia route is part ancient trails, part newly built trails, part Soviet jeep tracks, and part open terrain.”

The Georgia section is, according to the TCT website, coming along, while work on the Azerbaijan section has barely started. Tourism makes up a far smaller part of Armenia’s economy compared to Georgia. 

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Germany’s Eurowings to start flying to Tbilisi

JUNE 5 2021 (The Bulletin) — Eurowings, the low-cost airline owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, will start weekly flights from Dusseldorf to Tbilisi from July. There has been a boom in flights to Georgia over the past few years, driven mainly by tourism, led by Hungary’s Wizz Air which set up a base in Kutaisi in 2016. Seasonal workers have also pushed up demand for flights to Europe from Georgia. This year Germany has invited thousands of Georgians to pick fruit at its farms.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Sixt rental car signs franchise deal in Azerbaijan

JUNE 1 2021 (The Bulletin) — Sixt, the Munich-headquartered car rental company, concluded a franchise agreement with Azerbaijan-based Smart Rent a Car. Sixt, which is still run by the Sixt family, has been expanding its franchises over the past few years and already has franchise partners in Armenia and Georgia.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Azerbaijan to build hotel online booking site for domestic tourists

MARCH 3 2021 (The Bulletin) — Azerbaijan’s government launched a tender to design and build the first domestic online hotel booking platform, media reported. With international travel still restricted, Azerbaijan’s government wants to focus on domestic tourists. The system will only be available to Azerbaijani citizens and foreigners with residency permits.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kazakhstan’s Scat Air agrees deal to fly to Ras Al Khaimah

FEB. 3 2021 (The Bulletin) — Scat Air, a private Kazakh airline based in Shymkent, will start flying to Ras Al Khaimah under an agreement signed with the UAE state’s tourism development authority. Under the deal, Scat Air will, from March, fly directly to Ras Al Khaimah from Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Aktobe, Aktau, Atyrau, Uralsk, Karaganda and Shymkent. The terms of the deal have not been revealed. Ras Al Khaimah has said that it is on a major tourism push.

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— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgia to lift ban on international flights from Feb. 1

JAN. 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Georgia will lift a ban on international flights, imposed to try to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, from Feb. 1, media quoted Georgian economy minister Natia Turnava as saying. Tourism has become a major part of the Georgian economy over the decade and the banning of flights into Georgia for a year has hit it hard. Georgia has started to slowly lift its strict coronavirus restrictions.

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Fire destroys top Georgian restaurant in Central Asia

BISHKEK/JAN. 22 2021 (The Bulletin)  — A late-night fire destroyed the Pur Pur Georgian restaurant in central Bishkek, considered by many to be the best Georgian restaurant in Central Asia. 

Nobody was hurt in the blaze at the site just off Bishkek’s Philharmomic Square. Police have said that they are investigating the cause of the fire and have declined to comment on speculation of arson.

Pur Pur became a favourite venue for Bishkek-based diplomats wanting to wine and dine contacts and also a favoured hang-out for Central Asia’s small and thirsty foreign press corps. The Lonely Plant guidebook described the shabby-chic Pur Pur as serving “perhaps the best Georgian food this side of the Caspian” with tables groaning under “gigantic khachipuri and flowing decanters of house wine”. 

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Tourism dries up in Azerbaijan

JUNE 22 (The Bulletin) — Data from Azerbaijan’s statistics agency showed the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on the tourist industry. It said that in the first five months of the year, the number of tourists in Azerbaijan halved to 563,000. Most of Azerbaijan’s tourists arrive from Russia, Georgia and Turkey but a growing market is tourists from the Middle East. Tourist numbers are proportionally likely to fall further through the year.

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— This story was first published in issue 451 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, published on June 23 2020

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Coronavirus forces Georgia’s tourist industry to close

TBILISI/March 26 (The Bulletin) — The spread of the coronavirus has forced Georgia’s tourism industry, a source of pride and economic strength over the past half a decade, to shut down. Businesses linked to the sector said that it may take years to rebuild.

Irakli Areshidze, a bar owner in Tbilisi, told a correspondent for The Bulletin that he had had to leave debts unpaid and abandon his business for now.

 “It’s a very difficult situation,” he said. “We had to pay for the February expenses with the March income, but the March income was so low we needed to use the savings.”

The Georgian tourism sector has been marketed heavily in Europe and the Middle East. For Arabs it is an escape from the heat, for Europeans it is an exotic bridge towards the former Soviet Union.

Lika Jguburia has been working as a guide. He said that all the tour reservations until October have been cancelled.

“To lose a job and a major source of income is simply awful,” he said. “And it has happened so quickly.”

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— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Azerbaijan buys London taxi cabs

MARCH 11 (The Bulletin) — Azerbaijan agreed to buy 100 more London-style taxis from British electric vehicle manufacturer LEVC for an undisclosed amount. A government press release said that President Ilham Aliyev had personally decided that the new fleet will be painted ‘Tupelo Red’. In 2012, Azerbaijan bought 1,000 taxis from LEVC. These were painted purple.

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— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020