Tourism is a cornerstone of Georgia's economy, contributing more than a quarter to the country's GDP, a figure that far outstrips the global average of 7.5%. According to new data, while Georgia faces stiff competition from countries both within and outside the former Soviet bloc, it leads its immediate neighbors and Central Asian countries in terms of tourism growth.
In the broader post-Soviet region, the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia hold the top spots for international visitors. Beyond this region, other top tourist destinations include Adriatic coastal nations such as Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania, as well as Eastern European countries like Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Bulgaria.
However, when focusing on the rate of growth, Georgia stands out. Between 2001 and 2019, the country saw its average annual number of international visitors per hundred inhabitants soar from 81 to 172. During this period, Georgia exhibited the most rapid expansion in visitor numbers among Eastern European nations. Other countries marked by a similar uptick include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Armenia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
An international visitor is defined as a non-resident traveler, aged 15 or above, who spends less than one year in the host country. To gauge the tourism rankings among countries in Georgia's regional vicinity, the study used the average rates for both the 2001-2019 and 2015-2019 periods. This approach allows for an assessment of long-term trends as well as more recent changes. To standardize the comparison across nations, visitor numbers are normalized per hundred inhabitants.
For this analysis, three distinct geographical and economic zones were considered to be part of Georgia's region: the former Soviet Union, the United Nations' classification of Eastern Europe, and the World Bank's category of low-income countries in Europe and Central Asia.