Ambitious Plans for Adjara Development: Interview with Minister of Finance and Economy


Georgia became an attractive country both in terms of tourism and investments, a tendency reflected in the adjara region as well, with a considerable boost seen both in the number of tourists visiting and in the increase of the investments in the region. Where, years ago, foreign visitors came to Batumi primarily to enjoy it as a sea resort, the trend has changed, as Adjara is becoming an attractive destination year-round. GEORGIA TODAY met with Mr. Ramaz Bolkvadze, Minister of Finance and Economy of Adjara, to talk about the ongoing projects for promoting the region and to find out what’s are in the pipeline to grow Adjara’s tourism potential and attract new investors.

What is the reason behind the growing popularity of Adjara in recent years?

First of all, the fact we’re promoting its tourism and investment potential. We’re trying to realize many infrastructural projects to make our region attractive and accessible year after year, and I’m delighted that’s exactly how it is.

Tell us about your priority projects for assisting Adjara’s further development

There is great number of such projects. We have road infrastructure improvement, being carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development of Georgia, which will see the Khulo-Zarzma road construction this year. We’re working on the Goderdzi resort internal road construction, part of it being done with a 1761c meter road connecting the investment land plots at the resort. Next year, we’re planning to improve a 1300m road at the resort. At this stage, there are six investment projects running at the Goderdzi resort, with GEL 80 million financing. Another direction which we’re promoting is Green Lake, with a construction development regulation plan aiming to create infrastructure for ease of access to the lake and area. We’re also working on the Goma Mountain master plan, all of which helps to bring private investments, a process in which government is also involved.

In addition, we’re realizing a landmark project: the gasification of mountainous Adjara, which started this year. All the way from Batumi municipality to Shuakhevi municipality, the Mountanous Adjara gasification project will ensure 11,000 subscribers start to receive gas. The first stage of the project is to be finalized in the spring of 2019. Next year, we’re planning to acquire a new project for the Shuakhevi to Goderdzi direction gasification. One of the projects realized by the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Adjara is the concept of Heroes Avenue (Heroes Lane) in Batumi, which greatly helped the investment flow to the region as well as to the overal development of the location. From the very start, the decision on what type of building should be constructed in the area was made, which assisted the consequent systematic and effective development of the territory. There are 12 investment projects in the area, with an overall GEL 609 million investment, which will add a 1000 hotel room capacity to the city. Apart from offering this territory to investors, we’re planning to start building an international Batumi football stadium opposite the Heroes Avenue, bringing a final touch to the district, which will be developed through state and private investments. This increases interest in our region; tourists are eager to come and see the modern architecture, the modern possibilities of the region and at the same time see the untouched nature some 100 kilometres from Batumi.

What infrastructural and other projects are being realized in Batumi and other municipalities for tourism?

The attractiveness of our region is exactly in it being a four-season, year-round tourist destination, and we’re putting lots of effort into developing it further. From the successful projects realized lately, the Kobuleti territory needs highlighting, with an ambitious, high budget construction project of a 200-room hotel, with an approximate investment of GEL 200 million and 400 people to be employed. There were lots of health and spa sanatoriums during the communist period in Kobuleti, and there’s a great interest in that direction now, too. I expect we’ll have a number of novelties coming. If we take the Autonomous Republic of Adjara at a whole, we have impressive figures: according to the 2016 data, approximately $428 million investment was made, 71% of which was foreign. As for the tourism direction, on the territory of the new boulevard, more than half a billion GEL investment has been made, which means approximately 2600 new employment possibilities and 1700 hotel rooms. The aforementioned Heroes Avenue is expected to have more than additional 1000 hotel rooms with 1500-2000 workplaces. On one hand, it’s bringing in investments, and on the other it’s improving social consitions, reflected in greater employment opportunities.

Is the infrastructure and service well adjusted for attracting tourists?

The Ministry of Economy and Finance of Adjara is planning to carry out an interesting project, building campsites along the central road to Goderdzi resort and also on the road to Cholokhi. The project is already being worked on, encompassing approximately six campsites; however, next year we’re planning to add more. Creating an ethno-village in Machakhela is also a very interesting project, bringing and reviving folk traditions in one place. Machakhela is close to the city, so tourists could reach it by bike and enjoy the rich nature of the area, alongside the added historical and cultural value that our region has to offer. We’ll do our best for Adjara to become even more interesting and attractive for tourists, offering them the best service and a comfortable environment.

What are the major challenges you face?

Our plans are quite ambitious and we’re realizing mega-scale historical projects in the region. The team of professionals involved is the defining factor that means few difficulties or challenges create barriers: we want Adjara to be a four-season region, a place where tourism flourishes, a place for business.

How will 2017 be important for Adjara?

This is the question I often asking myself and I think 2017 is the year of starting projects of historic significance. We started the gasification project; we’re planning to start estacade construction; we’re starting the Batumi Central Stadium project; we have also managed to launch six projects in mountainous Adjara, with an overall investment of GEL 80 million minimum and the chance to create up to 500 workplaces. In other words, we can say that the kick-off is extremely positive and we think that it will bring a lot of benefits to the region. 2017 was a good year for the region.

Which project are you most proud of in your time as minister?

I’d say that every project realized is important for me, and it’s difficult to underline only one; however, I would note the Batumi international football stadium project for 20,000 spectators that our beautiful city of Batumi is soon to have.

Nana Abuladze

13 November 2017 18:38