Georgia is preparing to host the world’s largest tourism fair in Berlin
Hundreds of tourism professionals and key players in the global travel industry who will gather in Berlin, Germany in March next year for the world’s largest tourism exhibition, ITB Berlin 2023, will have the opportunity to experience Georgia’s world-renowned hospitality and welcoming culture, after the country was announced as the host of the event.
Georgian authorities have already started preparatory work, with the acting head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Medea Janiashvili, and her office working on the concept of the marketing campaign for the event. Janiashvili said the concept would develop in two ways: the fair itself and a promotional campaign for the event as well as the country as a tourist destination.
In cooperation with ITB Berlin, Georgia, as the host country, will organize the grand opening show of the fair and will be highlighted throughout the event on three consecutive days, from March 7 to 9.
The fair’s official website said Georgia would kick off the show with a festive opening gala at CityCube Berlin, with the event to be broadcast live. The country will also be strongly represented at the exhibition center, in particular at hub27 and in Hall 4.1.
In this interview with agenda.ge, Janiashvili shared some plans for how the country will position itself in Berlin next year, and discussed planned marketing campaigns to better promote it as a tourist destination around the world.
Georgian stand at laughs Berlin 2019. Photo: baltexo
Q. Being a host country for the world’s largest trade show is a big responsibility. How will Georgia face this responsibility according to you and what are the expectations, the benefits of this spectacle for our country?
A. Positioning itself at the ITB Berlin exhibition as a host country is on the one hand a very ambitious statement and on the other hand it tells the world that Georgia is a worthy and very interesting country to host this exhibition.
As part of this exhibition, we plan to launch a campaign in Germany next year, aimed directly at the German market.
We will have the largest booth displaying all of our competitive and superior travel products, which will truly attract potential tourists – both business and individual. We are planning an event for around 3,000 people as part of the exhibition. In addition, the campaign will run throughout the year in Germany. It will be external branding, direct work with companies, publishing articles about Georgia. More the [initiative] It is by using multiple channels, the more successful the campaign will be.
I’m sure Georgia’s ability to be an unforgettable and hospitable country will be reflected in this show, and every visitor will feel it.
Medea Janiashvili. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge
On the other hand, this three-day event will massively help draw attention to our hospitable country among visitors from all over the world. This is to further strengthen our position on the world tourist map and confirm that we are a very worthy country with great potential for tourists.
Q. How many marketing campaigns does the GNTA currently run and which countries are targeted?
A. This year, various major marketing activities have been carried out in various target markets such as Persian Gulf countries, Germany, Israel, Poland, France, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Baltic and Scandinavian countries, Great Britain and the United States.
Within the framework of organized press tours, about 550 representatives and influencers of the media and tourism businesses visited Georgia, as a result of which about 1,300 social media posts, 27 articles and a TV show were published. Moreover, by the end of the year, three episodes and 13 articles should be published, in addition to press tours in cooperation with airlines such as FlyDubai, Turkish Airways and airBaltic.
American travel writer Benjamin Kamper films a new video to promote Georgia’s tourism potential. Kemper works with international media such as Bloomberg, CNN, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Thrillist, Time, Saveur and others. Photo: GNTA
In order to position Georgia on the international stage, the GNTA, together with representatives of the private sector, participated in six international tourism exhibitions and fairs such as FITUR 2022 Madrid, ITB Berlin, IMTM Tel Aviv, Connect Helsinki, ATM Dubai and TOP Resa Paris. In addition, it is planned to participate in four international exhibitions by the end of the year – WTM London, World Travel Show Warsaw, Berlin Travel Festival and IBTM Barcelona.
We have implemented marketing campaigns with international platforms such as National Geographic, Conde Nast, CNN and Bloomberg. It also plans to implement an integrated marketing campaign in Germany, the Baltic countries and the Persian Gulf states by the end of 2022.
Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Q. On what strategy do you base a marketing campaign?
A. Before planning a marketing campaign, we define target markets. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war have changed our approach a bit. Because of the war, we lost a very important market – Ukraine. It was a very strong growth market.
In addition to defining target markets, all marketing campaigns are preceded by market research. We have several channels from which we collect information on which tourism product to bring to which market. One of these channels that we use very actively is the Visa and MasterCard data that we work with. In this way, we obtain information about the tourism product that interests which market – for example, whether it is adventure, gastronomy or cultural tourism that travelers are interested in. We also get information on how far in advance they plan a trip. After the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot has also changed in this direction. For example, before it was known that a German tourist would be likely to plan a trip a year in advance, but now that time frame is reduced to 62 days.
Such studies help us and are necessary to plan the campaign well.
B2B meeting at the fair. Photo: GNTA
In turn, we have divided these marketing campaigns into different methods: intensive work with the international media, in which we bring in journalists and organize press tours; integrated campaigns, when we prepare certain materials that are distributed in specific countries; and tourist exhibitions, in which we participate and promote our country on the spot. We go to travel fairs with travel agencies and present [our promotions] to business.
If before we used to say that Georgia is an attractive country, and encourage international travelers to come and visit [it], now that is not enough. We are now at the stage where you have raised awareness, and now everyone expects you to tell them what specific products you offer. “I am a country of ancient, modern and constantly changing culture” – that’s what Georgia has to say [to them] today.
Q. Which Georgia tourism product most attracts tourists to the country?
A. Hospitality is the starting point from which all tourism products are formed, and it is our advantage. People no longer travel to see a specific place – they are looking for an emotion. This is why the world is now trying to make tourist offers evoke emotions and not just the spectacular side. The tourism product must be emotionally memorable and you must not only witness it visually, but be a direct participant in that product.
Emotions are Georgia – a campaign featuring artificial intelligence and human emotions. Video by GNTA
Georgia has enormous potential in many directions – we have coastal, mountainous, desert areas; we are a country of four seasons; this small country has gastronomic offers from different regions – these are our advantages, which very few countries in the world have.
Q. In addition to traditional destinations, what new offers can Georgia offer to foreign holidaymakers?
A. There are many tourism products in Georgia that can be introduced and gradually developed, which we are working on. An example is the health and recreation department, which has great potential. The new project of [rehabilitating the abandoned Soviet-era] The resort of Tskaltubo also serves this idea – that we position ourselves in the international market as a country with unique offers in health tourism.
Although we are a small country, we have a lot of ring roads – that is, you can move from one region to another and to a third without repeating the same path. This is the most important thing in tourism.
The road leading to the mountainous region of Tusheti is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the world. The road should be fully renovated by the end of 2025. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Q. What are the challenges?
A. Shortage of staff. After the pandemic, the shortage of personnel has become a particular problem in the world. As a result of the pandemic, the tourism sector around the world has lost up to half a million employees, as this sector has been the most affected. Employees moved to other areas. In recent years, we have often spoken of the problem of qualified personnel. And now we say it’s just a personnel issue. We don’t have enough staff in the tourism sector. And the interest to work in the hospitality industry globally is slowly decreasing which is the biggest challenge in the world. We are in constant communication with other countries on how to resolve these issues. We are working in this direction.
Q. And at the end of our interview, please share some plans to promote domestic tourism.
A. A development [sector of] domestic tourism helps the country overcome a crisis. We remember that during the pandemic, it was domestic tourism that saved the industry. In addition, the development of domestic tourism contributes to the development of this or that tourist product, which you then want to export to the international market.
A participant of Gemo Fest. Photo: Gemo Fest/Facebook
To promote domestic tourism, this year we launched the local food and drink festival Gemo Fest, which took place in the Racha region of Georgia.
The idea of Gemo Fest was to further develop gastronomic tourism. This festival is useful not only because it promotes domestic travel, but also because local people become aware of their opportunities and become involved in the formation of this tourist product.
In addition, wine festivals and various cultural events are organized in the country, which we support. All this contributes to the development of domestic travelers.