Irakli Kobakhidze, head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, said Thursday that the opposition’s calls to impose visa requirements for Russian and Berarussian citizens on the background of Russia’s war in Ukraine, “is xenophobic”, noing that “tourism is one of the key sectors for the Georgian economy”.
“This is a deliberate xenophobic campaign that is absolutely disgraceful. It does not fit into any norms. If someone wants to be European, they cannot prove it with xenophobia”, Kobakhidze said.
"Tourism is one of the main directions of our economy, and a lot of fake information is being spread in this regard. In particular, one of TV stations has announced that the number of Russian tourists in Georgia today is 10% of the population of Georgia, which is a complete lie”, Kobakhidze said.
Transparency International Georgia said in its findindings on Wednesday that Georgia has received 240,000 Russian tourists and about 6,400 Russian companies have been registered in Georgia between January and June 2022.
Prior to this, the Lelo for Georgia opposition party called for the imposition of visa requirements for Russians and Belarussians, pointing at security threats as the influx was “uncontrolled”.
The party on Thursday called for the introduction of a temporary visa regime for Russian and Belarussian citizens, restricting purchase of lands and other real estate in Georgia to foreigners, as well as issuing residency permits.
The party also demanded the Government to publish official data on visitors, informing the public how many Russians and Berarussians arrived in Georgia following Russia's war in Ukraine and stayed, and how many Russian companies have been registered so far.