On April 27, President of the Republic of Abkhazia Raul Khadzhimba held a retreat of the Cabinet of Ministers in the city of Gagra, which was dedicated to the questions of preparing for the tourist season.
In the course of the meeting, the Minister for Resorts and Tourism Avtandil Gartskia reminded everyone that the main budget-forming sites of the tourist sphere demonstrate higher profit figures than in the previous years. The main directions for the Ministry’s work include participation in international tourist exhibitions, organising promotional and informational tours for foreign travel agencies, the issue and distribution of hundreds of thousands of booklets and other promotional products about the republic, and the introduction of new tourist routes.
Avtandil Gartskia said that a mobile app has been developed allowing every tourist access to all the necessary information. He also said that a large-scale certification of tourist guides with the involvement of well-known international experts is ongoing. The Ministers said that the main requests of the tourists include security, cleanliness and quality food. Avtandil Gartskia said that in order to strengthen security, it is necessary for police officers to be present at tourist sites.
According to the Minister for Internal Affairs, apart from ensuring social order, another measure to prepare for the tourist season is to fight economic crime. In a few weeks, the work plan will be developed together with a department of the Ministry of Taxes and Duties. Aslan Kobakhia stressed that the traffic patrol (GAI) employees are prohibited to stop cars with Russian number plates. He also said that the Ministry will develop a way to distinguish between cars that visit Abkhazia and local cars with Russian number plates. The Minister reminded everyone that GAI employees may only stop cars at official checkpoints. According to the Minister, video surveillance will improve security on the roads. It will be launched soon.
Deputy Minister for Health Batal Katsia said that one of the most frequent problems of the tourist season is the shortage of medicine which is most needed during the summer period. He called on to heads of administrations to listen to the requests of chief doctors and create a reserve of necessary medicine. Batal Katsia also said that in May, disinfestation will be carried out, first of all in social facilities.
The Head of State Raul Khadzhimba expressed confidence that the number of tourists in 2017 will be no less than last year. However, in order not to lose the tourists’ interest, it is necessary for more quality work to be done. The President also reminded everyone that there are large tourist centres in the Russian Federation, which compete with the republic.
In the course of the meeting, the President spoke about the work of the agencies to identify acts of concealment of real income. The Head of State said that, following the example of the New Athos cave, electronic devices to register the number of tourist visitors will be installed in the Ritsa relict national park and other tourist sites.
“These problems require actions on the part of certain agencies. Yet, this does not mean that they have to be always present on the tourist sites. It is enough for them to carry out a complex investigation once. The results have to be evident. We have to see why a certain situation is unfolding. Speaking about the tax agency, there are reserves, and they are significant. Yet, to engage more actively in these issues, it is not necessary to visit tourist sites all the time, but to create a regulatory framework that would allow to us to receive actual data”, - said the President.
Raul Khadzhimba also spoke about illegal construction in Pitsunda and other cities.
“The same situation is in Gagra. Who allowed them to destroy the architectural style which was formed in the city and in Sukhum for many years? On all sides, houses are surrounded by hotels which were built illegally. This is why I am demanding from the Prosecutor General’s Office, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the tax agency to carry out work on these sites”, - said the President.
The Head of State pointed to the Ministry of Agriculture that it is necessary to use local agricultural products for tourist catering purposes. The President remarked that tourist infrastructure sites have to cooperate actively with the producers of local agricultural products and to conclude contracts with them. This will allow using financial funds more effectively and would contribute to the growth of agricultural producers’ opportunities.