TBILISI, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 29, 2018: A view of the Tbilisi TV tower (L), the Metekhi Church (on a rock), and houses in the Old Tbilisi district in the historical part of the city. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

Georgia’s tourism industry has lost at least $44.3 million due to a decline in the number of Russian tourists in July, the head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvirivishvili said in an interview with the Georgian Interpressnews news agency on Tuesday.

This is what “small and medium-sized hotels, cafes and restaurants, tour operators, people offering different tourist services” have failed to earn, Kvirivishvili said.

Prior to a temporary ban on direct flights between Georgia and Russia that came into effect on July 8, the Georgian authorities had expected the tourist flow from Russia to double.

The National Tourism Administration issued data for July on Monday, according to which about 160,000 Russian nationals visited the republic, which is 6.4% less year-on-year. As for the figures for seven months, between January and July, Russian nationals made more than 850,000 visits to Georgia, which was a 22.1% growth year-on-year.

On June 20, 2019, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm it. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On June 20, IAO President Sergey Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue.

To ensure Russian citizens’ safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting on July 8, flights by Georgian airlines to Russia would be halted.

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