Georgia Urges Reopening of Azerbaijani Borders for Tourism Boost

Georgian-Azerbaijani border. Photo: Ana Flasker/shutterstock

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Ilya Darchiashvili, has expressed his views on the extension of Azerbaijan’s land border closure for an additional three months.

Emphasizing the significance of open borders for tourism development, the minister believes that if Azerbaijan were to reopen its land borders with Georgia, it would contribute to an increase in arrivals from neighboring countries.

On March 11, Prime Minister Ali Asadov extended Azerbaijan’s special quarantine regime until July 1, 2024, at 06:00, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Azerbaijan initially closed its land borders in the spring of 2020 in response to the pandemic.

Darchiashvili conveyed to Georgia’s “First Channel” that the full opening of borders would be welcomed to further foster tourism development. He highlighted the historical influx of visitors from Azerbaijan, Georgia’s strategic partner, and expressed a desire for this trend to continue.

Regarding Azerbaijan’s specific arguments for keeping the borders closed, Darchiashvili acknowledged the initial reason being the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent regional security concerns. He expressed a lack of information on Azerbaijan’s current stance but conveyed Georgia’s openness to a decision to reopen borders for the convenience of Azerbaijani citizens visiting Georgia.

Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Economy, Mariam Kvrivishvili, previously disclosed that the closure of the land border with Azerbaijan resulted in a loss of over 1.5 million tourists. This setback equated to approximately $400 million, hindering Georgia’s return to pre-pandemic tourism levels.

According to the National Statistical Service of Georgia, foreign visits to the country reached 7.1 million in 2023, a 30.3% increase from 2022. Russia led with 1.2 million visitors (23.2% of the total), followed by Turkey (21.4%) and Armenia (13.5%). Georgia garnered over $4 billion in tourism revenue in 2023.

Contrastingly, the State Border Service of Azerbaijan reported 2,085.8 thousand tourists from 187 countries in 2023, marking a 30.2% increase from the previous year. Notably, 30% of visitors came from Russia, 18.1% from Turkey, and 5% from Georgia. The total number of tourists arriving in Georgia surpassed those in Azerbaijan and Armenia by 1.6 times in 2023.

ГлавнаяNewsGeorgia Urges Reopening of Azerbaijani Borders for Tourism Boost