Astamur Bartsits on the state of the tourism industry in Abkhazia, intermediate results of the resort season and new directions.
About how tourism is developing in the villages of Abkhazia, why Tkuarchal is gaining popularity, where the residents of the republic prefer to rest, how to solve the problem with "photo-livestock" and illegal guides, said the Deputy Minister for Resorts and Tourism of the Republic Astamur Bartsits in an interview with Sputnik correspondent Badri Yesiava.
- Astamur Khitskurovich, it is probably already possible to summarize the interim results of the 2019 holiday season in Abkhazia. Tell me, how do you assess the summer holiday season, how many tourists visited the republic from May to July inclusive?
- We assess the holiday season positively, we have a positive trend. To date, our republic has been visited by about 600 thousand tourists. Of these, 350 thousand people with a one-day excursion, about 250 thousand guests rested with us.
The indices of one-day excursions are higher this year, about 10-15 thousand tourists visited Abkhazia more than last year. In collective accommodation facilities, the number of beds has not increased, so the indicators are approximately equal.
- Is rural tourism developing in the country today? What is the state of the village infrastructure, does it allow you to receive guests?
- Rural tourism today is developing much more actively than in previous years, because there is a need for it, and we know about it. Rural tourism in our country mainly consists of the "Abkhazian feast", which is held in the villages of Duripsh and Mgudzirkhua of the Gudauta region and in the eastern part of Abkhazia. This is the most popular type of recreation in the countryside.
Also, our guests can purchase vouchers to the villages of Abkhazia during the period when grapes and citrus fruits are being harvested, and take part in the collection and processing. The main goal of rural tourism is for guests to get acquainted with our way of life, culture, traditions, find out how the population lives and what it does. There are examples when a person has visited all the main sights of the republic and he wants something new. He comes to a travel agency where he is offered such a program. Such directions are now gaining momentum and in the near future, I think, will be in great demand.
- How many travel agencies in Abkhazia offer such directions to clients?
- Today, these areas are dealt with by the National Travel Company and the company "Acetuk-Travel". How often tourists use such services, we cannot say, since this is still a pilot project. Basically, such programs are ordered by citizens of the European Union and other foreign countries. Russian citizens are less common.
Rest in Abkhazia with children is like a journey to a magical country with a mild subtropical climate, a magnificent mountain landscape, sandy beaches, as if created for gentle children's heels, and a gentle sea, warm, calm and clean. And all this is inexpensive, with tons of classic beach activities and places that will leave a lasting impression. Abkhazia is a fairy tale by the sea!
Rest with children is a delicate matter. It is important to take into account all the nuances, of which climate and weather play almost the most important role. In this regard, a family vacation in Abkhazia seems almost ideal. In summer, real heavenly bliss sets in here, the mountains, framed by emerald greenery, look great, and the sea becomes warm.
Moreover, June in Abkhazia is suitable even for babies, during the day the air warms up to +27 degrees, at night it will be about +23. The Black Sea, however, is not yet gaining "momentum" in terms of water temperature, and at this time it fluctuates around +21 degrees. But towards the end of June, the water can warm up a couple of degrees higher, and then the children will have more joy - more than enough!
In July it is already getting hotter, the temperature reaches +30 degrees, the water warms up to +23, you don't want to get out of it! Rest at the sea becomes a little sultry, but the breezes blowing from the fertile sea save the business, and the heat is easily tolerated. It's a little more difficult with this in August, because the air temperature will already be +34 degrees, and the water will resemble Ershov's fairy tale "The Little Humpbacked Horse". Do you remember how the tsar "crossed himself, boo into the cauldron ... and boiled there"? Well, in Abkhazia it will not come to this, but it will definitely be + 25 + 26 degrees in the water.
But in September comes real comfort for vacationers, which is why it is so loved by tourists in Abkhazia. The air is +24 degrees, the water temperature is almost equal to this value, and you and your baby comfortably move from one environment to another, which gives both untold pleasure.
In October, swimming is already problematic, as in April-May, but in the spring Abkhazia is simply amazing! Everything is blooming, the air smells of the coming spring and the anticipation of the coming summer, it is very comfortable here. You can start swimming in May, but the water around +20 is still a bit chilly for little kids. So, if you want not just to admire the beauties of Abkhazia, which are still ahead, but to swim with your child and get a powerful boost of vivacity for the whole year - go from June to September!
Most often, an obstacle on the way to rest in this magical land is the myth that it is worth going to Abkhazia, you will torture yourself to pass the border, etc., especially when it comes to traveling with children. So, you can dispel these doubts, it is easy to get there by car, since only 10 kilometers from Adler is the village of Veseloe, where the Psou checkpoint is located.
You can also use rail. At the same time, sanatoriums and boarding houses of Abkhazia often provide a transfer directly from Adler. If you go by your own car, then there will be no problems either.
You can also get there by train or train, which go along the route "Adler-Sukhum", then the border guards will go directly to the train and check the documents there. By the way, to cross the border you need Russian or foreign passports, and for children under 14 you need to have a birth certificate. On the Abkhaz side, you will need to pay an insurance premium of 10 rubles for 1 day of stay, this is not long.
Abkhazia is a very specific vacation on the Black Sea coast. Before you go there, weigh the pros and cons, so that later there is no disappointment from the vacation.
It's hot in July-August, but there are frequent rains and thunderstorms. We were in October, we were afraid to freeze, but the temperature was + 30 ° C, and we swam. Judging by the cost of the vouchers, of course, June, July, August and September are the most expensive months.
We reach Adler by any means. Trains run frequently, especially during the summer season, but the journey takes about two days. By plane, you can fly in just 2.5 hours.
From Adler or any other nearby city there is a way to the border. You can get there on your own, for example, by minibus, but traffic jams are possible on the road. The minibus will not turn anywhere from the traffic jam and will stand in it, and a transfer or taxi will take you, as a rule, along a freer road. The cost of a transfer and a taxi is the same, but the difference is that the taxi driver will take you only to the border, and the transfer will take you to your destination.
If you have chosen a transfer, an escort will lead you across the border. The path is about a kilometer through the market and bumps; if you decide to give him your suitcase, you will have to pay for it. The guide will take you through the checkpoint to the second car: that is, you go to the border in one car, after the border - in another. All this complicated procedure is organized for faster border crossing. There is a Duty free shop on the border (official website).
As you know, Abkhazia is a tiny state, occupying a narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains, with a population of no more than 200,000 people. Learning the cities of Abkhazia is not very difficult. There are only 8 of them. From the famous Gagra to the deeply provincial Gala. Each city has its own features and problems. On our portal about each of them there will be material and more than one. In the meantime, something like a very short sightseeing tour of the regions of Abkhazia. So, the regions of Abkhazia. There are 7 of them. Let's start from west to east.
Gagra district is the most developed and prosperous by Abkhazian standards. It was like that in imperial times, in the Soviet period Gagra and its surroundings were chosen for recreation by the Soviet party nomenklatura. At the time of independence, the greatest business and tourist activity was also in the Gagra region. This is understandable, Gagra and Pitsunda, one might say, have become the hallmark of Abkhazia.
Again, the proximity to the Russian border affects. Always at the beginning of the holiday season, the sanatoriums and the private sector of Gagra and Pitsunda are filled, and only then, after 2-3 weeks, a mass tourist reaches Gudauta, New Athos and Sukhum. Therefore, the Russians who decided to do the tourism business in Abkhazia, first of all, are considering options for acquiring land plots for the construction of hotels in the Gagra region: Alakhadzy, Gagra, Pitsunda, Molochny state farm, etc.
During the 1992-1993 Abkhaz-Georgian war, the Gagra region was not long under the control of the Georgian occupation forces, but the post-war devastation did not pass it by either. However, he also recovered quickly. Russo tourism and investments from Russia have made it again the most prosperous region of Abkhazia.
At the same time, there are still enough abandoned objects and empty sanatoriums in Gagra and the surrounding area. The problem is the absence of a real estate cadastre, strange privatization deals and not the best investment climate. There are also enough scams with real estate in the Gagra region. Land and facilities are expensive, hence the temptation to “cut money easily” from local and visiting swindlers. Therefore, when buying rights to land or commercial real estate in the Gagra region, it is better to first contact a specialist.
Among the negative aspects, it should be noted that the power system in the Gagra region is worn out, which is why accidents occur very often in local settlements. Other problems of the Gagra region:
Therefore, potential investors often prefer to implement their projects in other regions of Abkhazia.
Gudauta. It can be called the second capital of Abkhazia. Geographically, Gudauta is located in the very center of Abkhazia. The Gudauta region is one of the relatively prosperous in Abkhazia. After Gagra and Pitsunda, the next tourist center of Abkhazia is New Athos, which is part of the Gudauta region. ... There is a lot to see here, many Russian entrepreneurs choose New Athos for their investment projects.
The Gudauta region was controlled by the Abkhaz armed forces during the 1992-1993 Abkhaz-Georgian war. The leadership of independent Abkhazia was located here until the liberation of Sukhum. Accordingly, there were practically no battles on the territory of the region and it suffered much less than the eastern regions of Abkhazia. However, driving along it sometimes it seems that military actions were still here.
Photo: Ivan Roslyakov and Vitaly Becker
This time of year, magnolias blooming in the subtropics and rhododendron fields in the mountains await you. It is for the sake of the bright and diverse nature that it is worth going on this tour for the June holidays. Two hours flight - and you are in a completely different world!
June Evening in the mountains of Abkhazia
Meeting with your guide at the airport, a short stop for lunch in Gagra - and straight to the mountains! We are driving along the famous Ritsinskoye highway, which runs along the deep canyon of Yupshary over the dizzying cliffs. We get to Ritsa - a huge forest lake that has become the hallmark of Abkhazia. But we are heading further, to much less crowded places.
Lake Malaya Ritsa is one of the pearls of Abkhazia, located on the border of the fir forest and the subalpine belt. Photo: Antonina Zakharova
In good weather, we will make a mini-hike to Lake Malaya Ritsa, and then, already in the dark, we will go to the mountain resort of Auadhara. If it rains, you will have to go to the cozy houses of Auadhara right away. Night at the mountain shelter.
Walk along the Acetuk ridge. Photo: Andrey Pashkevich
A full day walk along the Acetuk ridge and alpine meadows. The purpose of this day is Lake Mzy, which at this time of the year begins to thaw from snow, and primroses just appear on the way to it. But still, first of all, we came to these mountains in mid-June to admire the flowering of rhododendrons - it is at this time that it reaches its peak.
Primroses in the alpine meadows of Abkhazia. Photo: Antonina Zakharova
We return to Audahara in the evening. Night at the mountain shelter.
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