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Horse tourism development and local partnership building near Borjomi National Park in Georgia

The project concerned the area around the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park in central Georgia and, in particular, the villages in the Borjomi municipality. About 35 000 of its residents practice subsistence farming, while the unemployment rate is 50%. The National Park region is attractive for equestrian tourism and has immense untapped potential. In 2011 the National Park was visited by 16 213 tourists, of which 38% were foreign tourists. In 2012 the park was visited by 21 620 tourists, of which 35% were foreign and 40% showed an interest in horse riding. These data were collected by the Borjomi National Park and show the large increase in the Park’s appeal among tourists as well as the increase in interest in equestrian tourism.

Horse tourism development and local partnership building near Borjomi National Park in Georgia

The project aimed to raise the quality of life and reduce unemployment among the residents of villages around the Borjomi National Park by improving entrepreneurship and their ability to independently generate earnings and by raising the quality of equestrian tourism in the villages around Borjomi.

All of the established objectives were achieved as a result of project activities. Thanks to participation in the undertaking, the quality of life of the project participants and their families was raised. According to data from the National Park, of the 38 000 tourists who visited the Park in 2013, about 20% rented horses, which means at least 7 000 horse rentals per season and, as a result, a substantial increase in business revenues.

The main organisers of excursions in the Park were the project participants. Unemployment was reduced in the vicinity of the Borjomi National Park after 11 people became qualified horse tour guides, two people trained to be saddle manufacturers, and four people qualified as blacksmiths. The project participants also received the appropriate tools, the purchase of which was financed in part (15%) by the project participants themselves, to practice their acquired trades at the highest level (proper saddles and the tools for making them) as well as horseshoe equipment (blacksmithing equipment was provided free of charge).

Thanks to the project, cooperation was undertaken between the local authorities, the Management of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and the project participants, who formed the Association “Horse Tours Georgia”. The association is a kind of producer group of horse owners and horse tour guides.