Govt & Businesses Join Hands at Major Hotel Management Conference

Georgian Hospitality is legendary and certainly a boon to the country’s tourism industry. However, as is the case with the modernized nature of our society, to fully capitalize on it and reap the rewards, the state and business sector alike should join hands into turning a tradition into a mundane obligation. One example of such cooperation was hosted by Pasha Bank as an entry point to their new project, aptly dubbed “Meeting Room”. The project represents a cycle of business conferences aimed towards bringing together participants from various industries and providing a platform for sharing ideas and best practices for raising the capital for various projects in respective industries.

The first business conference of Meeting Room was held at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel on May 25th with the topic “Hotel Development in Georgia – The Best Practices”.

The conference, supported by the Georgian National Tourism Administration and Colliers International, dealt with vital topics for hospitality management. An overview and overall assessment of the hospitality field, trends and expectations by Georgian National Tourism Administration, nuances of International Operator Identification and contracting for Hotel Management were all highlighted. Most importantly, what was basically a HowTo guideline for attaining financing (government grants, among others) for startup hotel business projects for small and medium scale enterprises were discussed in-depth. With presentations from noteworthy figures from the field and moderated by Georgia Today’s very own publisher & general manager, George Sharashidze, the conference was an occasion for interesting debate and insights into hotel management.

“It was a very useful meeting, particularly for tourism industry professionals,” he stated in a post event comment. “Pasha Banks’ new initiative of a ‘Meeting Room’ was highly appreciated by participants and speakers alike. It was a good chance for both the guest speakers and participants to find out recent trends in the hotel business and the tourism sector in general. The presentations were extremely interesting!”

According to the statistics provided by the National Tourist Administration, compared with the year before, there was a substantial growth in numbers in regard of both international passengers and tourists arriving in Georgia (15 % and 20 %-s, respectively). India, Iran, Israel and Ukraine were prevalent countries of origin, while Estonians, Danes and Italians seemed to be the most eager Europeans to visit Georgia. This positive growth was reflected on the economy of the country, with an 8 % growth in income. Similarly, it meant more investment poured into the hotel business, with about 60 new hotels emerging this year alone, some of them belonging to world famous brands.

To further necessitate the creation of more hotels - predominantly in the regions which have touristic potential - the government has devised a loan securing system for both up-and-coming and established investors. Intricate and multidimensional, it covers a wide array of aspects and offers significant leverage for the hotel development business: if an investor intends to bring a well-established and famous international brand to the country, the government is offering co-financing up to 300000 Gel. Even if a brand name is unavailable, the authorities are ready to co-finance a loan with substantial 8 to 10 % interest rates (for Gel and EUR, respectively) for the first 2 years. They also pledge to co-finance property mortgages and other forms of loan also for the first 24 months, from 500000 up to 2,500000 GEL, an international brand once again being the deciding threshold. However, it is required that 80 % of the loans should be directed towards purchasing more hotel infrastructure, the chief requirement being either building a new hotel in the region or expanding an existing one.

However, quality infrastructure should be complimented with quality service and hospitality management, which served as major talking points at the conference. Once again, according to the National Tourism Administration, about 2700 professional hotel staff participated in the state's organized free training in 2015. The agency also created a special department responsible for offering webinars to interested individuals. An expanded hotel database and interconnecting “convention” bureau were set up, tasked with assisting incoming investors with finding the right audience for MICE-tourism.

Significant attention was given to country-branding as a whole, with Giorgi Chogovadze, the head of the agency, pointing to the video ads aired by CNN and Euronews, adding that particular attention was given to the areas of India and Gulf states, destinations from where substantial amounts of passengers visited Georgia in recent years. Media significance was also underlined, with apparently more than 400 journalists visiting the country on government (i.e. embassy) invitations to share their impressions afterwards.

The event was wrapped up by a call to action for potential investors to register themselves in the database, with the government's assurances that they would be ready to financially support them when needed. The audience (and the author) left the event deeply satisfied, with a sense that this sort of involvement might just be the perfect predicament that Georgian tourism needs to continue to flourish.

30 May 2016 19:01