Georgia Economic Security Program

Accelerating the growth of sectors outside of agriculture that show strong potential to create jobs, increase incomes, increase micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) revenues, and support diversification to more productive economic activities.

  • Client: United States Agency for International Development
  • Partners: DAI, Georgia National Tourism Administration
  • Project Duration: May 2019 – April 2024

Project Description

The purpose of the USAID Economic Security Program (ESP) in Georgia is to accelerate the growth of sectors outside of agriculture that show strong potential to create jobs, increase incomes, increase micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) revenues, and support diversification to more productive economic activities. The tourism sector has been prioritized for its tremendous potential within the country.

The program will achieve this purpose by improving the workforce, including professional, management, and vocational skill development; supporting new service and product development; strengthening cooperation between key sector stakeholders; and developing and co-funding partnerships that have catalytic impacts in these sectors. By accelerating growth in the tourism sector (among others), the USAID Economic Security Program will contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and economic diversification for Georgia.

The call for action in tourism is strong. The public and private sectors realize that without quality upgrades and a trained workforce, Georgia will lose its competitive advantage in tourism, and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will struggle to survive. Many of the donors currently working in Georgia have a mandate to focus on very specific regions of the country; particularly in high-value nature/adventure, food and wine, and cultural tourism. To differentiate the works of the ESP Program and ensure impacts are at scale, Solimar is focusing our work at the national level and utilizing an initial value chain assessment to understand what is currently being done within the regions and how it fits into the priorities of designated government agencies.

Major Activities

  • Coordinated with three key government agencies including the Georgia National Tourism Association (GNTA), the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia (APA) along with the private sector and other regional tourism stakeholders to discuss the main challenges and opportunities for tourism.
  • Worked with GNTA to organize a tourism action planning workshop to present the main findings from the assessment, validate the priorities, and developed detailed action plans for implementation
  • Supporting the strengthened cooperation in targeted sectors including brokering the development of a Tourism Alliance as an umbrella federation of tourism associations to help them gain strength in numbers.
  • Providing ongoing support for the design and implementation of activities geared to improving business competitiveness and performance
  • Providing ongoing support and industry networks to help facilitate public private partnerships in the tourism sector, including with international and domestic tourism private sector.
  • Created a Destination Management Organization (DMO) Development Toolkit providing a step-by-step process for assisting DMO leaders:
    • formalize their DMO
    • establish a governance structure with stronger private sector participation
    • implement funding models including the recruitment of private sector members
    • establish operational procedures and policies
    • support destination development initiatives
    • create destination marketing materials
    • implement destination marketing activities
    • conduct research and monitor and report on DMO performance
  • Further assisted five regional DMOs through the delivery of virtual training program to the leaders of Ajara, Kakheti, Imereti, Svaneti, Samegrelo, and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. Solimar developed and facilitated 16 Weekly DMO Development Learning Sessions that included written learning content and pre-recorded video presentations designed to cover specific areas needed to help the DMO stakeholders understand how to form and build a successful DMO.
  • Provided training in visitor interpretive experience planning to the respective staff of Gori municipality and to the site-museums of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
  • Developed a Visitor Interpretive Experience Plan to support tourism sector development around Gori fortress and Uplistsikhe site-museum.
  • Assisted The Caucasus University School of Tourism (University) obtain the UNWTO TedQual Certification for its existing BA and MA programs.
  • Assisted the regions of Shida Kartli and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti identify and develop packages that involve various marketable activities and destinations within each region that can be customized for different target markets and budgets.
  • Further the development of the high-potential tourism segment of river rafting through an assessment and development of a strategy with recommendations
  • Conducted an assessment and provided recommendations for the further development of Zugdidi Botanical Garden and Dadiani Palace to receive visitors.
  • Currently identifying and developing new tourism packages and authentic travel itineraries focused specifically on the territories of Samtskhe-Javakheti Region and Tusheti Province (Kakheti region) that: a) involve the best marketable activities connected to the proposed itineraries and destinations; b) are appealing to high-value tourists from priority target markets and demographics; c) facilitate longer stays; and d) increase travelers expenditure by emphasizing better services and high-value experiences.
  • Currently assisting GNTA to prepare evidence-based recommendations for economic recovery from COVID-19 and subsequent evolution of the tourism sector highlighting realistic, tangible and detailed short-, medium and long-term actions.

Anticipated Results

  • The development of sector associations, public-private dialogue and strengthened market linkages
  • Support to sector stakeholders to identify, prioritize and access investment
  • Improved MSME firm-level operations in productivity, sales and quality
  • Strengthened linkages among industry, government, and educational institutions and training programs for tourism to improve skills
  • Deeper public and private sector cooperation and engagement in the tourism value chain

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“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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