Wine and well-being = vacations

Air France new route from Paris to Tbilisi

Discover below the article of Andreas W. Schulz, Freelance Aviation & Business Travel Journalist, on Georgia and the new route of Air France to the capital, Tbilisi. Testimonies of H.E. Pascal Meunier, French Ambassador in Georgia and Mr. Antoine Bardon, President of the CCIFG.


Georgia is currently considered as a trend destination. With its vineyards, 2400 thermal sources, Paleo Christian monasteries and modern architecture, this Caucasian country wants to attract tourists. This is why new flights are set up.

It is not often that travelers are personally greeted by Jean Fernandez, the new chief pilot of Air France, and are walking on a red carpet when leaving the plane. But that can happen when the President of Georgia sits int the front row of the business class and that it is the first Paris-CDG flight to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

For a small, highly contrasted country between Europe and Asia, new air routes are extremely important for " the development of the economy and the tourism," said President Salome Zurabishvili, who was elected a few months ago, minutes after her arrival in Tbilisi. This country of the Caucasus (three quarters of the region is mountainous) has a very turbulent history, which has been marked many times by war conflicts until recently.

However, Georgia has recently stabilised and is going on further with its reform objectives fixed early 2016 in the areas of business, education, construction and administration. Nevertheless, "the average annual income per capita is only around 3,600 euros", as stated by the German embassy in Georgia in its last economic report.


Tourists should bring foreign currency


Political and economic orientation towards the European Union and the United States should contribute to the reforms. Tourism should also be strengthened and more visitors and foreign exchange should be attracted to the country "with its diversity of culture, history, natural parks, health and well-being (103 seaside resorts and 2 400 thermal sources) and its sports activities, such as mountain hiking and winter sports, this diversity is something special that needs to be further developed, "said Marina Bojgua, head of the foreign markets department at the Georgian National Tourist Office.

Tamar Vachnadze, Head of Business Development, adds: "In recent years, the proportion of visitors from Germany has almost doubled, with around 65,000 visitors, which puts it at the top of EU visitor statistics”. On the gastronomic level, Georgia has an immense diversity particularly associated with viticulture. For example, the country is considered the oldest wine region in the world, with artifacts scientifically identified dating back to the 6th millennium BC.

Many wineries in the country, such as Château Mukhrani, a good half-hour drive from Tbilisi, invite you to test wine and the rich local cuisine. Even events with several thousand guests are not an impossible task for the cellar managers.

Overall, the country is rich in monasteries of the Christian and medieval era and fortified churches dating back to the 6th century, as well as new futuristic architectural projects in the capital, Tbilisi, with many sites that transform the nightlife in Europe. Good reasons to continue expanding our flights to major European cities such as Paris.

However, the development of a new air route between Paris and Tbilisi is not an activity that is self-perpetuating, it can be very tedious and requires political and economic initiatives, says the Ambassador of France in Georgia, Pascal Meunier: "It was about a year and a half ago, we, my Georgian counterpart and I, made an appointment with the director of Air France to discuss a correspondence with Tbilisi. "


Cooperation with Georgian Airways


As part of a concerted action, the French Chamber of Commerce in Georgia also got involved and supported the project with its members. President Antoine Bardon stressed that "only collective work by companies, airlines and local authorities can lead to lasting success, and we are working hard to achieve this. A close cooperation, for example, with our colleagues of the German Chamber in Georgia, is making sense" Bardon stresses.

From Air France's point of view, it is also crucial to be active in the market in order to target the right market segments such as business travelers, travel agencies and tour operators. "We have a large base in Eastern Europe and are working with General Sales Agents (GSAs) who know the local market better than we do," said Sébastien Guyot, Air France's sales director for the French market.

However, it should not be forgotten that the partnership with regional airlines is of strategic importance to serve the market attractively with flying frequencies: "We are working closely with Georgian Airways to achieve a win-win situation. Initially, our only two seasonal flights a week complement Georgian Airways 'already well-established twice a week flights to Paris and Amsterdam, "said Frank van't Hof, Air France-KLM country manager for Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus and Georgia.

This partnership with Air France-KLM is particularly important for a relatively smaller company that is Georgian Airways, which has only nine aircrafts and has seen many ups and downs in its 25 years of existence. “Thanks to the code sharing, we are putting at the disposal of our passengers a multitude of international destinations via Paris and Amsterdam, which help us to position better our offer, "said Eteri Gaiashvili, Director of German-speaking Business Development at Georgian Airways.


Original article: here

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