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21.Sep .2020 16:34

UNWTO Perspective: $100 Million Investment Fund and Agritourism

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In an interview with BMG, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, spoke about the emphasis on agriculture during the pandemic, the announcement of Agritourism as a priority in 2021, and the creation of the new investment fund.

According to Pololikashvili, before the pandemic started, 2020 was declared the year of Agritourism development, however, ideas and projects could not be implemented after March. He notes that the team has used this period quite productively and created guidelines on how the government and the private sector can help create new tourist destinations or develop existing, abandoned tourist destinations.

"A large investment fund is already being set up, headed by Saudi Arabia and the country's Minister of Tourism. It will be an independent investment fund that will contribute to the development of villages around the world. The initial stage is about $ 100 million in funding. My idea was to make 50 pilot villages, but the minister wants to make a 1,000. We will agree on this issue and then put it in action," Pololikashvili said.

According to him, various countries will contribute to this fund. The main idea of the project is to create new jobs. The World Tourism Organization will provide specific guidance to villages necessary for rural development. A village that meets the standards set by the organization will automatically be recognized by the organization. According to Pololikashvili, these villages will be easily perceived by tourists. "When a village has our status, tourists will be guaranteed to have all the means they are looking for during their trip - market, pharmacy, restaurant, souvenir shop, etc. We have the idea of creating different types of villages - for families, extreme travelers, sports enthusiasts, etc. We have a great emphasis on the villages of a gastronomic nature. All this is possible in Georgia because we have rich nature - sea, mountains, forests, etc," he said.

The World Tourism Organization will offer countries to share this information and methodology with municipalities and regions. After that, everything will depend on municipal activities and regional interests. According to the Secretary-General, it will be easier to make specific assessments of the effectiveness of the project after the creation of the first 10, 15, or 50 villages.