President Saakashvili called on businessmen to invest in construction of hotels in Mestia, main town of high mountainous region of Svaneti, which, as Saakashvili said, would host at least 500,000 tourists in four years.
The authorities are developing ski resort infrastructure in the region, which, Saakashvili said, “has more potential than the entire Transcaucasus.” He called the region “pearl of the world” and “crown of Georgia”.
Speaking with government members in Mestia on December 24, the Georgian President said that the government would give investors plot of land for “symbolic one Lari” in exchange of building hotels in Mestia.
He, however, said it would not be a scheme similar to one applied in Kobuleti and Anaklia on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, where investors, constructing hotels, will also enjoy with profit and property tax exempts for next 15 years.
“Forget everyone about tax exempts here [in Mestia]. It [this region] will be main source of tax revenues,” he said. “Land for just one Lari - it’s more than enough.”
“I wonder why the private sector is sleeping,” he said. “This is the place… where there will be more visitors than accommodation [to house tourists]… I call on everyone to open their eyes, build [hotels] and become rich and to do that before plots of land are still available here; plots of land are few and we are giving them for one Lari.”
“If I had three or four million, or even two million, I would have invested here,” Saakashvili said. “So think about it and do it.”
Also on December 24, he opened in Mestia a new airfield and said that flights there at the initial stage would be state subsidized in an attempt to provide cheaper air tickets and promote Svaneti’s tourism potential.