Agritourism development for the revival of pandemic-hit Georgian economy


This story has originally been published by UN Women Georgia.

Lela Khmelidze, entrepreneur from Lechkhumi region, running her businesses in agrotourism. Phoyo: UN Women/Tako Robakidze
Lela Khemlidze, entrepreneur from Lechkhumi, running her businesses in agritourism. Photo: UN Women/Tako Robakidze

Agritourism is one of the most important sources of Georgia’s regional development as well as job creation, women’s economic empowerment and financial revenue generation for mountainous districts. The sector’s significance has grown even more in the process of reviving an economy devastated by COVID-19, a fact that has been reflected in the anti-crisis plan of the Government of Georgia.

Considering this context, it is becoming even more relevant to pass new legislation on agritourism - an initiative that emerged as a result of a study tour to Tuscany organized for women entrepreneurs by UN Women and the Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA) in November 2018. Work supporting the legislative initiative is now led by the Agrarian Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, with the engagement of UN Women and the GFA and supported by the Norwegian Government. The legislation and its key focal areas were the main topic of a meeting held among the representatives of the legislative and executive branches of Georgia, organized with the initiative of UN Women and the GFA on 8 June 2020.

As mentioned during the meeting, the COVID-19 crisis and the pandemic-induced lockdown and difficulties in accessing the markets have clearly pointed out how important the local markets and the agritourism value chain are for agriculture. Otar Danelia, Chairman of the Agrarian Issues Committee, stated that now is one of the best moments for developing domestic tourism and that many Georgians would be rediscovering Georgia: “This law will become a basic document and a starting point, which creates the basis for the development and introduction of best practices.”

The legislation is focused on regulating and supporting this sector. It aims at developing agritourism, facilitating the sale of local products, increasing the access to finances for entrepreneurs in this field and promoting the agritourism image of the country.

These were the goals underlined by H.E. Helene Sand Andresen, Ambassador of Norway to Georgia, who participated in the meeting and welcomed the adoption of the legislation: “By enacting this legislation and implementing the standards, it will be possible to attract more tourists in the country. Georgia has successfully coped with the pandemic caused by the coronavirus; however, the economy of the country was hit hard. This situation has created a unique opportunity for preparing and planning the agritourism sector in a better way.”

The Parliament of Georgia is planning to pass the law on agritourism in the very near future, before the election campaign period begins. Development and advocacy work on the new legislation constitutes part of the ongoing project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia”, implemented by UN Women with the generous support of the Government of Norway.