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What's behind the tourism boom in Georgia?

Its hot springs, cultural sites and local wine attract millions of tourists each year.

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What's behind the tourism boom in Georgia?

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In Tbilisi’s famous ‘Chreli Abano’ sulfer baths the hot water (42 degrees Celsius) comes from underground. Many famous travellers, such as author Alexandre Duma, loved it here.

Euronews met Russian tourists Yuliana and Valentina at the baths, it was Yuliana’s third visit to Georgia. “It gives energy”, she said. “Every time I’m in Georgia I start here, first – the bath, after – some food and then – off we go!”

Their tour guide Dimitry Ositashvili explained how Tbilisi got its name: “Those sulfur sources gave the name to our legendary city, because Tbilisi is translated as “warm place.”

Yuliana fell in love with Georgia and convinced her friend to join her on this visit. The number of visitors, which is about seven million people a year, is more than double the country’s population.

Tourists are attracted to Georgia’s 12,000 historical and cultural sites.

“We are the four seasons destination, starting from winter you can ski in the high mountains where we have one of the best slopes in Europe, and into the summer when you can swim in our Black Sea, as well as in the autumn when you can enjoy Kakheti wine harvest,” Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, told Euronews.

Euronews reporter Galina Polonskaya followed the famous Kakheti wine route to one of the new local wine centers. Its owner moved here from Germany. His partner is one of the best local wine makers. And they are both convinced – Georgian wine is a treasure to discover.

“There are 500 different grape varieties in Georgia,” explained wine maker David Maisuradze. “We have great soil and climate, which creates unique conditions for Georgian wine making.”

“Unique grape varieties which you can not find anywhere else in the world, like Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane this are grape varieties with a huge potential,” said Joerg Matthies, owner of the Mosmieri Kakheti wine centre.

The first wine on the planet was produced on this land, in “Kvevri” clay vessels buried underground – an ancient method still widely used in Georgia.

We had a chance to see a Kvevri opening ceremony. Grapes, macerated with skins, seeds and stems, turns into wine underground.

“It is already scientifically proven that people here were making wine for more than 8,000 years, and the methodology how Georgians are doing wine is very special we do it in the special clay vessels and this methodology itself is a part of UNESCO World heritage,” said George Chogovadze, Head of National Tourism Administration of Georgia.

Khareba tunnel is 7 km long, and kept at 14 degrees Celsius throughout the year. There are thousands of bottles of different wines kept here. It attracts wine lovers from all over the world, who come to discover Georgia and its wine.

“The wine here is very good, I know it is now around the world it is being very very well respected and appreciated it is of course Georgia is the cradle of the wine civilization,” said Archimandrite Maximos, Monastery of St.Dionysios, New York.

Yuliana and Valentina discover another Georgian treasure – food. This time they are at a Tabla restaurant learning how to cook Adjar (Ajaruli) Khachapuri: the dough in a boat shape is stuffed with cheese and topped with a raw egg and a pat of butter before serving.

Tourists also flock to Georgia for the country’s famous hospitality, which is inside the locals’ DNA. They believe every guest comes from God.