Tusheti is a special place for local and foreign tourists by its spectacular landscape and architecture. Tishetian village Bochorna is Europe’s highest village. (2300 meters above sea level). It should be noted that, during half a century, some settlements did not have status, due to the poor roads condition, people visited this village seasonally. To find out what is the situation today and what is the investment potential of this place, Business Georgia interviewed Tusheti’s Development Fund Representative and deputy Head at the agency of Protected Areas Tamar Kvantaliani.
What kind of strategic documents are managed for Tusheti protected areas and what are their main aspects?
In Tusheti there are three categories of protected areas (I, II, V): For the first two (Reserve and National Park – administering body is Administration) responsible take, agency of protected area and Tusheti protected landscape (V category – administering body is Tusheti protected landscape administration) is under the jurisdiction of Akhmeta municipality.
Main Strategic document, for Protected Areas is management plan, approved by the Government, both of administration have it. The management plan is approved for 6 years and its goal is to protect natural and cultural heritage, restore, conserve, promote eco-tourism activities and sustainable development.
Development plan was created for Akhmeta and Tusheti municipality by the initiative of Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development.
What kind of projects have been funded?
By Various donors’ contribution on Tusheti Protected Areas implement nearly 25 projects with 670 000 dollars’ total investment. 2 700 000 US dollars was spent to improve living conditions of local population.
As for current projects, several projects are carried out with different directions: Operating cost and staff benefit of Protected Areas, agriculture (wool reproduction, production and realization of potato and vegetables, etc.), Monitoring of bio diversity, eco-tourism and infrastructure. In this case, the main partners are Czech Development Agency, the World Bank, German Society for International Cooperation, “Cartu” Fund, Caucasus Nature Fund and other.
What measures are taken to support the development of traditional agriculture system in Adjara? Do you support small businesses?
Promotion of traditional agriculture is one of the main directions and priorities in Tusheti. By financing Czech Development Agency, organization “Czech Republic Caritas ” implement a project to support traditional agricultural development, their aim is to develop agriculture system including development of private cooperation and support to local farmers, therefore it influences on small businesses development, they are creating cooperatives, have training in finance, marketing and accounting and etc.
By supporting Small business grants was funded eight projects mainly agricultural production- processing and the small tourism infrastructure.
Which enterprises exist in Tusheti? Could you tell us about their production? Do you plan to open new enterprises?
Therefore, in parallel with Tusheti protected territories, have been created various enterprises. Currently there are 47 guesthouses, Bakery, Eatery, Sale post. In Alvani operates the only wool processing factory in Georgia, which was financed by the project of Tusheti protected territories in 2005. With close cooperation with Czech Development agency are planned to improve some enterprises’ technical equipment. As mentioned above, the following cooperatives functions:
- Cooperative “Tushuri Golden Fleece” – the main activities are production and realization of traditional lamb, as well as sheep products (wool and cheese);
- Cooperative “Tushuri present” – the main activities are production and realization of Tushuri potatoes;
- Cooperative “Tusheti 2015” – the main activities are production and realization of vegetables;
“Alaznistavi” – the main activities are production of traditional production Tushetian Gouda cheese with modern standards, as well as rural tourism development.
What benefits bring solar energy for Tusheti? If there is planned to fulfil the same energy projects in the future?
The electricity problem was very acute in Tusheti, but the creation of protected areas and further development solved this problem. In particular, in 2010-2013 years with the support of Czech Development Agency , alternative energy development projects were implemented. 200 photo-electronic and water heater devices has been given to the local population, causing the greatest benefits for them. After solve this problem (Electricity and hot water) local population actively involved in tourism and boost income.
As is well known, the most important problem in Tusheti is infrastructure, what is being done to solve this problem? Do you plan to fulfil some project to this direction?
As mentioned above, we are working on Akhmeta and Tusheti space development project and was planned specific infrastructure projects for the future, including the development of highway system. As for Tusheti Protected Areas infrastructure projects, was arranged variety administrative, field and tourism infrastructure. Including: dispensary (First aid center), 3 Ranger Station, 15 picnic and camping place, tourist shelter, 2 reviewable, information boards, administrative and visitor center, 11 Marked path and 1 hostel.
Is hotel business successful in Tusheti? What problems or challenges facing the owners of the guesthouse?
According to some statistics we can say, that Tusheti is unique example of how the creation of protected area influence on region development. In 2007, at the beginning there were only 8 Guest Houses and in 2016 their number has increased to 47. As for visitors, in 2007 years 900 visitors visited Tusheti,while in 2016 the number increased to 13 793. Meanwhile increased local revenues (1 337 000 Gel in 2016 year, 29% higher than the previous year) and the number of employed people tourism sector (114 people – in 2009 year and 227 people in 2016 year). We can say, that Guest house business in Tusheti is very successful. However, there are some challenges that should be solved for the future. For example, internal roads malfunctions, household residue, communication gaps, lack of English language knowledge, lack of tourism services and etc.
What important measures were taken for the development of tourism potential and what are the future plans?
Measures were undertaken to promote the development of tourism in Tusheti, beside above-mentioned infrastructure and social elements, we should notify that Tusheti took part in a various local and international tourist exhibition. Also Tusheti actively is promoted by various media sources. For example, in 2010, Yahoo Travel- named Tusheti between the world’s ten best places to visit.
By supporting Protected Areas agency and local municipality by periodically are held variety of festivals, which promote Tusheti popularity and attract visitors. As well as articles published in local and international publications.
As for future tourism potential growth, it is important to regulate the access road and infrastructure according to environmental requirements. Also strengthen the capacity of local population and financial support.
The main purpose of “Tusheti Development Fund”, representing non-governmental organization, established by Tusheti community, is to promote social and economic welfare of Tusheti population, They believe, that it need constructive approach to solve current problems, which increase potential of Tusheti. According to fund statement, Tusheti advances higher level, on the one hand it is good, it is result stronger integration of Tusheti to the economy, but on the other hand Tusheti sustainable development needs very delicate planning and implementation later, to save the authenticity of this region, which will make this place attractive touristic destionation.