Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Professor Shing-Yi Wang


Once declared the “number one economic reformer in the world” by the World Bank, Georgia has yet to live up to the great growth and modernization expectations established during the country’s rampant economic catch-up phase after the Revolution of Roses in 2003. With its rich cultural history, beautiful landscapes, and unparalleled centuries-old customs, Georgia is well set up to benefit from the globally growing tourism industry and has worked with international organizations to craft a comprehensive tourism strategy intended to create foreign interest in the tiny Caucasus nation to help it emerge from the massive shadow cast by its much larger and more prominent neighbor, Turkey. Providing an in-depth analysis of Georgia’s historical and current economic situation, its complicated relations to the Russian Federation, as well as a portrait of its demographic and cultural context as background, this paper takes note of a series of systematic challenges, including but not limited to, the disparity of average labor productivity levels across sectors and the associated imbalance between total employment and economic contribution of different industries, the lack of diversification in the targeted tourism base and the resultingly high sensitivity to regional political tensions, as well as an inequitable education system that fails to efficiently cater to both, individual and national interests. Further, this paper proposes a number of interconnectedly designed solutions to capitalize on the resulting not-yet realized economic potential, most prominently emphasizing the acquisition of new traveler interest through globally targeted marketing strategies relying on the value proposition associated with intangible cultural heritage, the restructuring of the national education system to integrate an international focal point across all school levels and to offer a separate track of vocational training as a foundation for careers in the tourism industry, as well as a modernized approach to data collection and analysis to more effectively extract relevant patterns from tourism flows and the management of heritage sites. It is hoped that the presented insights can assist Georgia to emerge on to a path of sustainable economic growth, in turn generating economic development for the local population and helping the country establish itself as a global player in the post-pandemic world’s tourism industry.


Georgia, Caucasus, Tbilisi, Tourism, Marketing, UNESCO, Intangible Heritage, Education, Labor Productivity, Vocational Training, Gavrilov's Night, Revolution of Roses, Sustainability, Data Analysis



Date Posted: 09 October 2020


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