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Georgia rolls out red carpet for Chinese visitors

By Yang Feiyue ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-23 08:46:40

Georgia rolls out red carpet for Chinese visitors

Scenery of village Omalo, Tusheti in Georgia. Lying in the South Caucasus, the country boasts rich natural and cultural landscapes.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A cradle of red wine, unique culture, gourmet food, ancient churches and hospitable people, Georgia is hoping to attract more Chinese to savor its diverse charms.

New flights connecting major cities like Shanghai and Beijing might be launched in future.

"Air China representatives plan to visit Georgia to explore business possibilities," says David Aptsiauri, ambassador of Georgia in China.

Already, China Southern Airlines operates direct flights from Urumqi to Georgia.

The country is also offering e-visas to encourage Chinese visitors.

Applicants can usually get results within five working days.

"All you need to do is to complete the online application form and pay with your credit/debit card instead of applying through the Georgian embassy," Aptsiauri says.

Roughly 9,000 Chinese tourists visited to the country last year, up 11 percent as compared with the previous year, according to the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

During the first two months of this year, the number of Chinese visitors increased by 59 percent year-on-year.

The country's tourism authority is striving to realize annual growth of 30 percent in the number of Chinese visitors in future.

Lying in the South Caucasus, Georgia officially opens to the Chinese since May 2012 when tourism authorities on both sides signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing.

The country is known for its hot springs in the capital, Tbilisi, and beaches along the Black Sea.

Tbilisi is home to magnificent, restored buildings, refurbished museums and chic restaurants, and is rapidly becoming a cultural hub.

Local dishes are imbued with rich and distinctive herbs and spices, featuring bold but balanced flavors.

Now, many local restaurants also offer Chinese cuisine.

Georgian 8,000-year winemaking tradition, which includes using huge clay pots (qvevri), is a UNESCO Intangible Heritage.

The country also offers thrilling outdoor experiences.

Tourists can go heli-skiing from a peak 3,300 meters above sea level at Gudauri, just a 90-minute drive from the capital. The small mountain town of Mestia, meanwhile, offers one of the most challenging and beautiful ski experiences in Europe.

The country's charm is no secret - a total of 5.5 million international travelers visited in 2014.

As the number of Chinese outbound travelers is rising, the country is confident of embracing more Asian guests.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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